How an Obama Nominee Could Win Senate Confirmation

Charles Cameron and John Kastellec in The Washington Post argue that an Obama Supreme Court nominee could win confirmation in the Senate.

Using the statistical model in that paper and the ideologies of current senators, we can estimate the support that a given nominee of any ideological persuasion would receive. We’ll assume a high quality nominee and intense interest group mobilization (similar to that in the nomination of Justice Clarence Thomas).

“The horizontal axis depicts the ideology of the nominee, moving from extremely liberal to moderate  to conservative. For every potential nominee, we estimate how each senator would vote, and then sum the total number of yes votes, which is depicted on the vertical axis.”

“The five names in black type depict the current median on the court (Kennedy) as well as the court’s four liberals. The short bars at the top of the figure show the ideological locations of every senator, with Democrats in blue and Republicans in red.”

“The model does identify a range of nominees who could thread the confirmation needle. In the graph, the justices in purple serve as reference points for nominees who (roughly speaking) lie between the 50-vote threshold and Kennedy.”

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