"Picking Federal Judges" by Sheldon Goldman

Picking Federal Judges Lower Court Selection from Roosevelt through Reagan Sheldon Goldman

Publication date:
10 Sep 1999
Yale University Press
448 pages: 235 x 156mm

A president’s least-noticed important legacy is his appointment of judges to the lower federal bench. How are these judges chosen? What happens behind the scenes? How important are senators, party organizations, the American Bar Association, and others in the selection process?

In this landmark book, a leading authority on lower federal court judicial selections tells the riveting story of how nine presidents over a period of fifty-six years have chosen federal judges. Sheldon Goldman has interviewed participants, and he has mined published and unpublished government documents and archives, along with memos, letters, and other documents in the papers of every president from Franklin Roosevelt through Ronald Reagan, to bring to life the judicial selection process. His book is filled with richly drawn and dramatic accounts of each president’s use of judicial appointments to further policy, partisan, and personal agendas. Goldman analyzes political and social changes that have occurred over the years and the impact of those changes on the profile of those selected for the bench. His statistical portraits of the backgrounds of each administration’s appointees point up the changing face of the federal judiciary. The author also documents the responses of each presidential administration to calls for gender and race diversification of the bench. Casting bright light on the little-known details of judicial selection politics, Picking Federal Judges is sure to become the definitive book on this subject.

Received Honorable Mention for the 1997 C. Herman Pritchett Award given by The Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association

"During the last few decades students of the judicial processes have looked to Sheldon Goldman as the preeminent scholar of federal judicial selection. This book?instantly the classic study of the subject?demonstrates why his work has been so highly esteemed."?Walter F. Murphy

"Goldman analyzes the judicial nominations in light of the nation's political and social changes and their impact on the judicial selection and confirmation process. While other books have studied Supreme Court nominations, this excellent work focuses on an area not generally covered. Recommended for academic libraries and informed readers in public libraries."?Library Journal

"If there is one individual acknowledged by the academic community as THE expert on the lower federal court selection process, it is surely Sheldon Goldman. . . . The writing style is colorful and easy to follow, and Goldman's footnoting of the references is careful and meticulous."?Choice

"If there is one individual acknowledged by the academic community as THE expert on the lower federal court selection process, it is surely Sheldon Goldman. . . In this text Goldman explores the selection of US trial and appeals court jurists from the time of Franklin Roosevelt's administration through the era of Ronald Reagan. . . The writing style is colorful and easy to follow, and Goldman's footnoting of the references is careful and meticulous."?Choice

"If you are interested in the selecting of federal judges, the reading is fascinating."?Appellate Practice

"[Goldman's] effort will undoubtedly be the definitive study of lower court selection for the foreseeable future. . . . Goldman successfully targets the study for both generalized and scholarly audiences while, at the same time, using an explicit theoretical framework for analysis, and approach most often associated with purely academic work. . . . One can only hope that today's judicial selection participants will begin to take their cues about the boundaries of legitimate behavior in appointment politics from this extraordinary historical study."?Elliot E. Slotnick, Judicature

"As a life's work, it is a marvelous accomplishment."?Charles Cameron, Columbia University, Political Science Quarterly

"It should be read by every lawyer who wants to be a federal judge as well as by those who practice in front of them. . . .This is an eye-opening book about a process that has been in place virtually out of sight since the beginning of the Republic and which, on balance, has worked out rather well. . . . Goldman has produced a comprehensive, well-organized and crisply written research work with excellent tables for any scholar or student of the American judiciary."?Michigan Law Review

"A noteworthy effort to fill a substantial gap in the scholarly literature on federal judicial selection. . . . The numerous examples that vividly show the behind the scenes politics involved in the selection of lower federal judges are fascinating reading. In addition, the documentation on the increasing effort devoted to the diversification of the federal bench in gender and race is quite interesting. Overall, the book delivers on its promise of significantly filling a major gap in the judicial literature."?Robert C. Bradley, Perspectives on Political Science

"Picking Federal Judges makes a number of valuable contributions to the appreciation of judicial selection. Professor Goldman's assessment of the process of choosing judges for the appeals and the district courts is a tour de force. . . . [This book] immeasurably enhances understanding of federal judicial selection throughout the half-century that spanned the presidencies of Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan."?Carl Tobias, University of Cincinnati Law Review

"This is a rich book, full of care and detail more than sufficient make up for a certain analytical thinness. It is likely to be the definitive study of presidential judicial selection."?John E. Finn, Journal of Politics

Selected as an Outstanding Academic Book for 1998 by Choice Magazine

"A tour de force on the subject of federal judicial selection. Goldman has filled a major gap in the literature."?Lee Epstein, Washington University in St. Louis