Professor Stein on Supreme Court Nomination, Politics of Checks and Balances

Friday, March 04, 2016
AHA TODAY (AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION) -- Marc Stein is the Jamie and Phyllis Pasker Professor of History at San Francisco State University. In this blog post, he discusses the politics involved with nominations to the Supreme Court. “If the will of the U.S. public over the last five decades can be determined based on the outcome of national elections (and it is not clear that it can be), voters have wanted significant checks on the president and Congress,” Stein writes. “This was not as clearly the case in the immediately preceding era. [From] 1932 to 1968, voters elected a Democrat as president in seven out of nine contests and a Democratic Congress in 16 out of 18. This ensured that the Supreme Court was dominated by justices appointed by Democrats through most of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. In contrast, voters since 1968 have mostly acted as though they want a divided government, which has tended to limit decisive action.”