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Presidential Decision Making and Minority Nominations to the U.S. Courts of Appeals

Authors

  • MITCHELL KILLIAN

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    1. George Washington University
      Mitchell Killian earned his PhD in political science at George Washington University in May 2007. His research has appeared in Political Behavior and Political Research Quarterly.
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  • AUTHOR'S NOTE: I appreciate the advice and assistance of Sarah Binder, Forrest Maltzman, Wendy Martinek, Paul Wahlbeck, and Langche Zeng. Lee Sigelman was especially helpful in providing suggestions on many drafts of this paper. Additionally, Kathleen Bratton, David Lublin, and Rorie Spill Solberg provided helpful guidance in the data collection process.

Mitchell Killian earned his PhD in political science at George Washington University in May 2007. His research has appeared in Political Behavior and Political Research Quarterly.

Abstract

Substantive and descriptive representation of racial minorities bolsters the legitimacy of governmental institutions. Prior research on the judicial branch has examined what factors influence the proportion of minorities on U.S. district courts. However, there are no quantitative analyses on what factors affect presidential decisions to nominate minorities for seats on the U.S. courts of appeals. The U.S. courts of appeals are effectively the courts of last resort for nearly all federal cases. Drawing on data from a variety of sources, I show that these decisions are strategic, primarily reflecting presidents’ own ideology and minority representation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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