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Friday June 17- "The Supreme Court Confirmation Process and Constitutional Legitimacy: The Political Triumph of Judicial Conservatism" - Ed Whelan
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By James Dudley, June 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

In each of their first two years as President, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were presented the oppurtunity to appoint a Supreme Court justice.  A mere sixteen years apart, the confirmation processes for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Stephen Breyer, on the one hand, and for Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, on the other, were dramatically different, especially in the degree of opposition they aroused from Republican senators. 

This difference, I will argue, reflects the popular political triumph of judicial conservatism over the past two decades - the triumph of originalist methodology over the "living Constitution," of Chief Justice Roberts's umpire metaphor of President Obama's empathy standard, of judicial restraint over liberal judicial acitivsm.  More broadly, this triumph speaks to how the Constitution continues to shape and define American identity.

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1 Comment
Lee Trepanier on Jun 18, 2011 at 7:39 am

Although judicial conservatism has triumphed in framing the debates, it seems to make little difference in the actual approval of Democratic nominees to the court. Republicans may be more forceful in their opposition today than sixteen years ago, but the end results are the same.

about the author

James Dudley
James Dudley

I finished my BA in History and Political Science at Villanova University in 2008.  I am a recent Navy veteran, and am currently on the staff of ISI.