Lies, damn lies, and statistics

The Senate race is all about the Supreme Court, my friends tell me. If you want one type of Justice, vote Republican; if you want another type, vote Democrat. They’re right, of course. The Senate will have to confirm any appointments that Bush makes in the next two years. But just what kinds of results can we expect from a Democratic versus a Republican Senate? A quick survey of recent justices (excluding Justices Roberts and Alito, who are too new to really judge) shows:

Recent Justices Nominated by Republican President and Confirmed by a Democratic Senate

Clarence Thomas

David Souter

Anthony Kennedy

William Rehnquist

Recent Justices Nominated by Republican President and Confirmed by a Republican Senate

Antonin Scalia

Sandra Day O’Connor

The results are clear, aren’t they? If you would like to see justices similar to Justice O’Connor appointed, then vote Republican. And if you would like justices like Justice Thomas or Chief Justice Rehnquist appointed, then vote Democratic. History doesn’t lie, does it? Based on past history, for example, you can accurately tell your friends that you’re voting Republican this year because you didn’t much like Justice Thomas and Chief Justice Rehnquist, and prefer Justice O’Connor.

I only hope this information doesn’t arrive too late to influence anyone’s political choices this election day.

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5 Responses

  1. Orin Kerr says:

    Don’t forget about GOP nominees Earl Warren, William Brennan, and Harry Blackmun.

  2. I says:

    Of course, Bork and Douglas Ginsburg were rejected and pressured out of the nomination process, respectively, by a Democratic Senate from a Republican President. Republican Senates haven’t done that.

  3. Nate Oman says:

    I would add John Paul Stevens (appointed by Gerald Ford) to Orin’s list.

  4. Mark B. says:

    So, since it doesn’t matter, I suppose I can hold my nose and vote for Hillary today?

    Actually, can I vote for Scalia? He gave me As in Contracts and Administrative Law, so there’s a soft spot in my heart for him.

  5. The focus on confirmations is misplaced. Most nominees (81 percent) have been confirmed and, since 1900, presidents have usually gotten their way. Some even say there is a presumption in favor of confirmation.

    Party identification is, however, more of a crticial factor when it comes to failure. Calculate the number of failed nominations when the president’s party has controlled the Senate. Then you will see the larger, more important point to be made.