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Pursuit of Justices: Presidential Politics and the Selection of Supreme Court Nominees Hardcover – October 15, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0226945453 ISBN-10: 0226945456 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (October 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226945456
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226945453
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,946,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Clip326 on June 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Yalof has done a tremendous job on a very important subject, the process by which presidents select their Supreme Court nominees. He identifies the most widely used presidential approaches to the selection process, as well as isolating ten factors that have changed the modern day selection process.
Yalof then applies these broad factors to each of the nominations made to the Supreme Court since the Truman Administration. Of particular interest is his coverage of the Reagan nominees, especially Judge Bork.
Yalof's book would be a great one for an introductory class about the Supreme Court. Using tons of primary source material, it is a fascinating look into how and why presidents choose the Supreme Court nominees they do.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Chitown Reader VINE VOICE on January 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book details the selection process of Supreme Court nominees from 1945 to the present. The book focuses on the President and his decision process in selecting nominees. While there is solid analysis of the nominating process, the real value of this book is its inside historical narration of the nomination process. Overall the book is lucid and well written. For anyone interested in the Supreme Court this book is a must read.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful By HAROLD J. REYNOLDS on June 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I reviewed Yalof's Pursuit of Justices for the New York Law Journal (December 10, 1999). He describes how nominees for the Supreme Court were chosen during the Truman through Reagan presidencies. His subject is novel, painstakingly examined and offered in a sustained, highly readable prose. His book deserves shelf space in libraries public and private. Its harvest of facts catches and holds one's attention, and is so full that no review can do its details justice. Of the seven presidencies, those covering Nixon and Reagan should be read first for sheer enjoyment at the sight of a driven nomination process in high gear. The seventh chapter, an exposition of the forms and problems in nominee selection, is in itself a handbook that should be kept in the right hand drawer of a President's desk, its copies to be distributed among those humble Machiavellians who even now are laying long-term plans for their nominations. If you want to keep awake at night, read Yalof's description of how Nixon toyed with the idea of "sticking it" to the Democrats by nominating Senator Robert Byrd who had obtained his law degree while in the Senate and had never practiced law, and if that doesn't do it, try Nixon's consideration of vice president Spiro Agnew for appointment to the court.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By HAROLD J. REYNOLDS on June 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I wrote the review of Yalof's Pursuit of Justices for the New York Law Journal (December 10, 1999). Yalof describes how nominees for the Supreme Court were chosen during the Truman through Reagan pesidencies. His subject is novel, painstakingly examined and offered in a sustained, readable prose. His book deserves shelf space in libraries public and private. Its harvest of facts catches and holds one's attention, and is so full that no review can do its details justice. Of the seven presidencies, those covering Nixon and Reagan should be read first for sheer enjoyment at the site of a driven nomination process in high gear. The seventh chapter, an exposition of the forms and problems in nominee selection, is in itself a handbook that should be kept in the right hand drawer of a President's desk, its copies to be distributed among those humble Machiavellians who even now are laying long-term plans for their nominations.
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