From Library Journal
The author focuses on a frequently overlooked aspect of the nominating process for U.S. Supreme Court justices: Since the Senate has confirmed 89 percent of Presidential selections in the 20th century, the decision-making process that occurs prior to Senate consideration amounts to an approval process almost as significant as that rendered by Congress. Combining the analysis of documents from seven presidential libraries and numerous archives with personal interviews granted by former government officials close to their respective presidents, the author notes the political struggles that Supreme Court nominees must first survive within the Executive Branch, before the nomination fight moves to the Senate. The author concludes that three factors are now crucial for a Supreme Court nomination to make a positive political mark on a President's historical legacy: reasonable expectations from his supporters, decision-making flexibility, and highly qualified subordinates. Yalof adeptly parallels the experiences of those Presidents who sucessfully employed such mechanics (Ford and Clinton) with those who sometimes did not (Nixon and Reagan). An excellent book for anyone interested in recent Supreme Court history and the politics of the changing times it represents.APhilip Young Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Lib., New York
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Yalof examines the process of nominating justices to the U.S. Supreme Court since World War II. His focus is not on the public part of the process, evoked by the spectacles of the Senate confirmation hearings for Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas, but on the more determinative process that brings nominees before the Senate and confirmation about 89 percent of the time. Yalof explores various elements that shape the landscape surrounding nominations: the timing of vacancies, the composition of the Senate, the public approval of the president, and the attributes of the outgoing justice. He covers seven administrations and characterizes their approaches to the nomination process: Truman's reward of loyalty and friendship, Eisenhower's challenge of cronyism, the restoration of political patronage under Kennedy and Johnson, the southern strategy of Nixon and Ford, and Reagan's pursuit of conservative idealogues. Yalof, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Connecticut, has rendered a very accessible and interesting look at this important process in American government. Vernon Ford