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Federalist No. 76: Does the Presidential Appointments Process Guarantee Control of Government?


G. Calvin Mackenzie is the Goldfarb Family Distinguished Professor of Government at Colby College. Among his books on presidential appointments are Innocent Until Nominated (2001), The In-and-Outers (1987), and The Politics of Presidential Appointments (1981).


Federalist No. 76 describes the process for appointing the top officers of government, which was seen as essential for recruiting the aptitude and tendency toward good administration. This essay examines the process as it has evolved into a series of Herculean tests of political endurance. Having illuminated the founders’ basic intent for expeditious and honorable appointments, the analysis provides a troubling indictment of the continuing difficulties recruiting, confirming, and retaining dedicated citizens as guarantors of liberty.