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The Next Justice:
Repairing the Supreme Court Appointments Process
Christopher L. Eisgruber

Paperback | 2009 | $20.95 | £16.95 | ISBN: 9780691143521
256 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400827824 |
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The Supreme Court appointments process is broken, and the timing couldn't be worse--for liberals or conservatives. The Court is just one more solid conservative justice away from an ideological sea change--a hard-right turn on an array of issues that affect every American, from abortion to environmental protection. But neither those who look at this prospect with pleasure nor those who view it with horror will be able to make informed judgments about the next nominee to the Court--unless the appointments process is fixed now. In The Next Justice, Christopher Eisgruber boldly proposes a way to do just that. He describes a new and better manner of deliberating about who should serve on the Court--an approach that puts the burden on nominees to show that their judicial philosophies and politics are acceptable to senators and citizens alike. And he makes a new case for the virtue of judicial moderates.

Long on partisan rancor and short on serious discussion, today's appointments process reveals little about what kind of judge a nominee might make. Eisgruber argues that the solution is to investigate how nominees would answer a basic question about the Court's role: When and why is it beneficial for judges to trump the decisions of elected officials? Through an examination of the politics and history of the Court, Eisgruber demonstrates that pursuing this question would reveal far more about nominees than do other tactics, such as investigating their views of specific precedents or the framers' intentions.

Written with great clarity and energy, The Next Justice provides a welcome exit from the uninformative political theater of the current appointments process.


"What do we want in a Supreme Court Justice, and how should we get it? Eisgruber, a former Supreme Court clerk, argues that the first step is to do away with the idea that the process can or should be entirely divorced from politics...Eisgruber's practical recommendations for fixing the confirmation process boil down to having senators stand up for themselves during hearings, unafraid to say no, but his larger point is that, in pursuit of justice, moderation is the paramount virtue."--The New Yorker

"[A] concise and lucid case for a more thoughtful and workable process."--Publishers Weekly

"The focus of the not on jurisprudence, but on the inadequacy of senatorial confirmation hearings.... Eisgruber recommends that the Senate correct the confirmation process by following the example of the executive branch. Thus, the Senate should 'rely less on hearings and more on the kinds of evidence that presidents use': writings, speeches, and, for nominees who are judges, opinions. He continues that the Senate should not rely on futile inquiries about a nominee's commitment to strict construction of statutes or finding the original intent of the founding fathers. Instead, he suggests that the Senate ask nominees about their interpretation of abstract language in the U.S. Constitution...[This] is a thinking person's book. Anyone concerned about the future of the U.S. Supreme Court, however, will find it fascinating. Elegantly written, closely reasoned, and carefully researched, the book is well worth the reader's thought and time. Whether or not you agree with Eisgruber's suggestions and conclusions, The Next Justice remains stimulating, even provocative."--Stewart Pollock, Newark Star Ledger

"Eisgruber's analysis is essential reading for both lawmakers and the public."--Deirdre Sinnott, Foreword Magazine

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Table of Contents:

Preface ix
Chapter 1. A Broken Process in Partisan Times 1
Chapter 2: Why Judges Cannot Avoid Political Controversy 17
Chapter 3: The Incoherence of Judicial Restraint 31
Chapter 4: Politics at the Court 51
Chapter 5: Why Judges Sometimes Agree When Politicians Cannot 73
Chapter 6: Judicial Philosophies and Why They Matter 98
Chapter 7: How Presidents Have Raised the Stakes 124
Chapter 8: Should the Senate Defer to the President? 144
Chapter 9: How to Change the Hearings 164
Chapter 10: What Kinds of Justices Should We Want? 178
Chapter 11: The Path Forward 186
Notes 193
Index 225

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