With President Bush’s recent Conservative appointments to the Supreme Court shifting the Court perceptibly to the right and the retirements of several liberal justices looming, the appointment process for the next justice promises to be a partisan and bruising affair. And, according to Christopher L. Eisgruber—former Supreme Court clerk and Rockefeller Professor of Public Affairs at Princeton University—without a radical change in Senate Confirmation Hearings, the process will continually fail to provide solid reasons to confirm or reject a nominee. Eisgruber argues that Justices have their own judicial philosophy and that Senators have the right to reject a nominee if they find the nominee's philosophy objectionable. That said, he also contends that the current exchange between nominees and Senators, often centering on how nominees might rule on specific controversial issues, is ill conceived and damaging to the Court. Offering a different approach to the self-indulgent and demonstrably futile examinations that Senators currently direct at nominees, Eisgruber underscores this new method with well-designed, in-depth questions constructed to address nominees' fundamental approach to Constitutional law. Unfortunately, other than the growing consensus that the confirmation system is broken, Eisgruber offers no reason why the decision-makers he hopes to influence will abandon their deeply ingrained partisanship. Nevertheless, readers will side with Eisgruber, and applaud his concise and lucid case for a more thoughtful and workable process.
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"What do we want in a Supreme Court Justice, and how should we get it? Eisgruber, a former Supreme Court clerk, argues that the first step is to do away with the idea that the process can or should be entirely divorced from politics...Eisgruber's practical recommendations for fixing the confirmation process boil down to having senators stand up for themselves during hearings, unafraid to say no, but his larger point is that, in pursuit of justice, moderation is the paramount virtue."--The New Yorker
"[A] concise and lucid case for a more thoughtful and workable process."--Publishers Weekly
"The focus of the book...is not on jurisprudence, but on the inadequacy of senatorial confirmation hearings.... Eisgruber recommends that the Senate correct the confirmation process by following the example of the executive branch. Thus, the Senate should 'rely less on hearings and more on the kinds of evidence that presidents use': writings, speeches, and, for nominees who are judges, opinions. He continues that the Senate should not rely on futile inquiries about a nominee's commitment to strict construction of statutes or finding the original intent of the founding fathers. Instead, he suggests that the Senate ask nominees about their interpretation of abstract language in the U.S. Constitution...[This] is a thinking person's book. Anyone concerned about the future of the U.S. Supreme Court, however, will find it fascinating. Elegantly written, closely reasoned, and carefully researched, the book is well worth the reader's thought and time. Whether or not you agree with Eisgruber's suggestions and conclusions, The Next Justice
remains stimulating, even provocative."--Stewart Pollock, Newark Star Ledger
"Eisgruber's analysis is essential reading for both lawmakers and the public."--Deirdre Sinnott, Foreword Magazine
"The appointment process could gain a lot from Mr. Eisgruber's proposal...The Next Justice
makes a start, in the calm before the circus of the next nomination, toward the debate we must have if we are to overcome the 'confusion'."--Daniel Sullivan, New York Sun
"The Next Justice
should be a required reading for all the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, so insightful and informative is Eisgruber's analysis of this profoundly important subject. For decades the nation has been wrestling with the question of how to avoid cyclical partisan warfare over Supreme Court appointments. This book goes a long way toward defining sensible, balanced criteria for doing so."--Ronald Goldfarb, Washington Lawyer
"The Next Justice
contains many interesting descriptions of the Court, including its inner workings, the role of the law clerks, and the process of decision-making. Eisgruber has a great deal of respect for the Supreme Court as an institution, and he would like to have a confirmation process worthy of the Court. So would we all."--Charles S. Doskow, The Federal Lawyer
"While readers may disagree with how Eisgruber defines the term 'moderate justice,' no one who has even a passing interest in the composition of the Court should find Eisgruber's book anything less than thought-provoking. In fact, it should be required reading for any college constitutional law class and for first-year law students."--E. Drew Britcher, Trial
"As Australian governments venture tentatively towards greater transparency, Eisgruber's text is a useful reminder of the dangers they need to avoid. In the end, he suggests that reforms depend upon an appeal to the political process to lift its game."--Michael Kirby, Australian Law Journal
"[Eisgruber's] volume is a sensible, illuminating, and sometimes insightful look at the confirmation process. . . . For a subject that can be emotionally charged, the author has provided an account that is eminently readable and informative, one that is entirely manageable and digestible in an evening."--Donald Grier Stephenson, Jr., Journal of Supreme Court History