New Hampshire

How Did the Process of Picking SCOTUS Nominees Get Politicized?

Some Supreme Court scholars trace the politicization of the court back to President George H.W. Bush, who appointed David Souter, the now-retired justice from New Hampshire who angered conservatives by becoming one of the more liberal members of the court.

Experts say that move prompted subsequent presidents to nominate younger, more partisan nominees.

Boston College professor Kari Hong said that as of Monday, all of Trump's front-runners were well-qualified federal judges. Her concern with the way the process is working these days is that we know too much about how they think.

"We know their viewpoint," she said. "We know their decisions, and that is unfortunate, because the courts should not be politicized. We should not be able to count votes before we even know the cases."

Hong says the process has been damaged with nominees being picked by partisan groups based on a prediction of how they will rule on a given issue.

"They should not have any pre-disposition, they should not be carrying a party line," she said. "They have to have an original thought about how to decide the case and they have to have a heart. They have to know the impact of their decision."

Boston University law professor Jack Beerman says the choices reflect how polarized politics have become.

"There's no moderates on this list. And historically, presidents have chosen moderates," he said. "It seems like there's extremes on both sides and there's no middle any longer. I don't really think that, I think there is a lot more of a middle, but I think the leaders tend to skew toward the extremes in order to pick up the votes."

Professor Beerman says the new court could end up being as conservative as it's been since the late 19th century.

Contact Us