Clinton and the Courts
President Ronald Reagan was committed to fundamental change in the direction of constitutional decision-making in the federal courts, especially in most civil liberties fields. Toward that end, the Reagan Justice Department pursued an aggressive judicial agenda directed at persuading the courts to reject or limit abortion precedents and constitutional requirements of church-state separation, as well as earlier decisions expanding the rights of suspects and defendants in criminal cases and rulings condoning affirmative action programs. Even the office of Solicitor-General, an official appointed by the president but traditionally removed from politics, was put to the administration’s purposes, to such an extent, in fact, that Rex Lee, Reagan’s first Solicitor-General, resigned from the office in protest. The Reagan White House also took steps to assure the appointment of federal judges who shared the president’s conservative constitutional philosophy. President Bush continued the pattern, although in a more moderate fashion.
KeywordsYork Time Federal Court District Court Justice Department Reagan Administration
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- This summary is largely based on ‘Reaganizing the Judiciary: The First Term Appointments’, Judicature, Vol. 68, April-May 1985, pp. 313–29.Google Scholar
- This summary is based largely on Sheldon Goldman, ‘The Bush Imprint on the Judiciary: Carrying on a Tradition’, Judicature, 74, April-May 1991, pp. 294–306, and National Law Journal, August 6 1990, p. 43.Google Scholar
- This discussion is based largely on Sheldon Goldman, ‘Judicial Selection under Clinton: A Midterm Examination’, Judicature, 78, May-June 1995, pp. 276–91.Google Scholar
- The percentage for other presidents was Bush, 58.9 per cent; Reagan, 55.2 per cent; Carter, 50.9 per cent; Nixon, 48.4 per cent; Johnson, 55.3 per cent; Kennedy, 62.2 per cent; and Eisenhower, 61.7 per cent.Google Scholar
- See, for example, the comments in John Nichols, ‘The Clinton Courts: Liberals Need Not Apply’, Progressive, Vol. 60, September 1996, pp. 25–28.Google Scholar
- Ronald Stidham et al., ‘The Voting Behavior of President Clinton’s Judicial Appointees’, Judicature, Vol. 80, July-August 1996, pp. 16–20.Google Scholar