Parution : 08/2023
Editeur : Oxford University Press
ISBN : 978-0-1976-8053-7
Site de l'éditeur

Making the Supreme Court

The Politics of Appointments, 1930-2020

Charles M. Cameron, Jonathan P. Kastellec

Présentation de l’éditeur

Appointments to the United States Supreme Court are now central events in American political life. Every vacancy unleashes a bitter struggle between Republicans and Democrats over nominees; and once the seat is filled, new justices typically vote in predictable ways. However, this has not always been the case. As late as the middle of the twentieth century, presidents invested little time and effort in finding and vetting nominees, often selecting personal cronies, who senators briskly confirmed. Media coverage was desultory, public opinion was largely non-existent, and the justices often voted independently and erratically.

In Making the Supreme Court, Charles M. Cameron and Jonathan P. Kastellec examine 90 years of American political history to show how the growth of federal judicial power from the 1930s onward inspired a multitude of groups struggling to shape judicial policy. Over time, some groups moved beyond lobbying the Court to changing who sits on it. Other groups formed expressly to influence appointments. These activists and organized groups penetrated the national party system so that after about 1980, presidential candidates increasingly pledged to select and confirm nominees who conformed to specific policy and ideological litmus tests. Once in office, these presidents re-shaped the executive selection system to deliver on their promises. Moreover, the selection process for justices turned into media events, often fueled by controversy. As Cameron and Kastellec argue, the result is a new politics aimed squarely at selecting and placing judicial ideologues on the Court. They make the case that this new model gradually transformed how the Court itself operates, turning it into an ideologically driven and polarized branch. Based on rich data and qualitative evidence, Making the Supreme Court provides a sharp lens on the social and political transformations that created a new American politics.

Charles M. Cameron is Professor of Politics and Public Affairs at Princeton University. Jonathan P. Kastellec is Professor of Politics at Princeton University.



I. What Happened

Then and Now

The Party Demands: Party Agendas for the Supreme Court

Selecting How to Select: Presidents and Organizational Design

The Candidates for the Court and the Nominees

Interest Groups

The Media, co-authored with Leeann Bass and Julian Dean

Public Opinion

Decision in the Senate

II. Why it Happened

The Logic of Presidential Selection, co-authored with Lauren Mattioli

What the Public Wanted

Voting in the Shadow of Accountability: Senators' Confirmation Decisions

III. How It Matters, and What the Future Holds

New Politics, New Justices, New Policies: The Courts That Politics Made

The Future: The Courts that Politics May Make

What Future Do We Want? Evaluating Judicial Independence


504 pages.  $125.00