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Carter's Judicial Appointments - A Lasting Legacy

NCJ Number
Judicature Volume: 64 Issue: 8 Dated: (March 1981) Pages: 344-355
S Goldman
Date Published
12 pages
This article examines the backgrounds of the Carter appointees to the Federal courts and presents a preliminary evaluation of Carter's impact on judicial selection.
President Carter appointed 202 persons to lifetime Federal district court positions and 56 to Federal courts of appeals. Carter withdrew 4 other nominations to the district court, and the Senate did not act upon 12 additional district court nominations and 4 appeals court nominations. Several ramifications of these facts may be identified as the Carter legacy. First, the Carter appointees constitute about 40 percent of the judiciary, and most of them will remain on the bench well beyond the tenure of the Reagan Administration. These appointees are primarily moderate to liberal in their outlook. Second, part of Carter's legacy may be to raise the expectations that women, blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities will be actively recruited for the bench. Third, the Carter legacy suggests the desirability of opening up the nominating process through nominating commissions and extending the recruitment net. Republican senators may well continue the use of nominating commissions. Fourth, the use of merit selection nominating commissions by Carter and the Senators indicates that politicians and bar leaders view merit selection differently. Politicians want merit selection of the party faithful. It is suggested that Carter's record in this area may emerge as his major domestic achievement in view of his contribution to the professionalization of the judiciary. Three tables and 21 footnotes are included in the article. (Author summary modified)


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