Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly


Carl Tobias


One of the critical responsibilities which the Constitution entrusts to the President of the United States is the appointment of federal judges. The Chief Executive nominates, and with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoints these officials who enjoy life tenure and must resolve disputes which implicate the basic freedoms of America's inhabitants. President Clinton's careful discharge of this crucial duty may well have yielded the foremost success of his first term in office.

When Governor Clinton was campaigning for the presidency in 1992, he promised to name as judges women and men who would be very intelligent, possess balanced judicial temperament and evince a commitment to protecting individual rights enumerated in the Constitution. The judicial selection record which President Clinton compiled during his initial four years as Chief Executive shows that he has kept his covenant with the American people by appointing federal judges who have these qualifications and who make the bench's composition reflect American society more closely.

This Essay examines judicial selection in the Clinton Administration by initially analyzing how the Chief Executive chose judges during the first four years in office. Finding that his administration articulated clear selection goals and implemented efficacious procedures for appointing members of the federal judiciary, the Essay affords suggestions for naming judges during the second term. If President Clinton expressly enunciates excellent policies, and institutes effective measures for choosing judges, federal judicial selection could be the area in which his administration leaves its greatest legacy.