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April 24, 1998
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$29.00 USD, £24.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

The Selling of Supreme Court Nominees

Winner of the Herman Pritchett Award from the American Political Science Association

Politics has always been at the heart of the Supreme Court selection process. According to John Anthony Maltese, the first "Borking" of a nominee came in 1795 with the defeat of John Rutledge's nomination as chief justice. What is different about today's appointment process, he argues, is not its politicization but the range of players involved and the political techniques that they use. In The Selling of Supreme Court Nominees, Maltese traces the evolution of the contentious and controversial confirmation process awaiting today's nominees to the nation's highest court. In this paperback edition, he includes a discussion of the recent nomination of Stephen Breyer, addressing various reform proposals made by critics of the current process and crediting President Clinton's protracted selection process with restoring some decorum to the proceedings.

About the Author

John Anthony Maltese is associate professor of political science at the University of Georgia. His books include Spin Control: The White House Office of Communications and the Management of Presidential News.


"A careful and concise history, description, and analysis of the modern Supreme Court appointment process... A model of concese and careful scholarship, and I highly recommend it."

- Michael Comiskey - Journal of Politics

"Stands out in its scholarly thoroughness and innovative theory... one of the best books currently available for understanding the contemporary politics of Supreme Court nominations."

- John B. Gates - The Law and Politics Book Review

"A highly informative study of presidential appointments and senatorial confirmation-or rejection-of those nominees to the Supreme Court throughout our history... This book is clearly written, fast paced, and very well documented. It is recommended to all interested to the political gateway to the federal appellate judiciary."

"A model of concise and careful scholarship."


"John Anthony Maltese sets out to explain how the confirmation process of Supreme Court nominees has arrived at its present point—and he succeeds admirably by interweaving historical and contemporary materials. He demonstrates precisely when and how interest groups became involved in the process and when and how the White House became actively involved in, as he puts it, 'selling' the nominees. I know of no other work that more thoroughly mines the presidential papers and other archival materials, and effectively integrates contemporary scholarship."

- Sheldon Goldman, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Johns Hopkins University Press
Interpreting American Politics
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