In the January 2014 issue of PS: Political Science & Politics, Washington & Lee visiting professor of law Todd Peppers was recognized for his article “Picking Federal Judges: A Note on Policy and Partisan Selection Agendas” (with M. Giles & V. Hettinger). Authors Salmon A. Shomade, Roger E. Hartley, and Lisa M. Holmes, in their article “Lower Federal Court Judicial Confirmation Fights: A Critical Review of the Empirical Literature and Future Research Directions” identified the work as the second-most influential political science article on lower court confirmation politics in the last twenty years. It has been cited over 200 times.
Professor Peppers co-authored and published “Picking Federal Judges: A Note on Policy and Partisan Selection Agendas” in Political Research Quarterly in 2001.
From the abstract:
The importance of lower federal courts in the policymaking process has stimulated extensive research programs focused on the process of selecting the judges of these courts and the factors influencing their decisions. The present study employs judicial decisionmaking in the U.S. Courts of Appeals as a window through which to reexamine the politics of selection to the lower courts. It differs from previous studies of selection in three ways. First, it takes advantage of recent innovations in measurement to go beyond reliance on political party as a measure of the preferences of actors in the selection process. Second, employing these new measures it examines the relative effects of the operation of policy and partisan agendas in the selection process. Third, a more complex model of selection is assessed than in most previous studies-one that expressly examines the role of senators and senatorial preferences in the selection process. The results clearly suggest that the politics of selection differ dramatically depending upon whether or not senatorial courtesy is in operation. The voting behavior of Courts of Appeals judges selected without senatorial courtesy is consistent with the operation of a presidential policy agenda. Among judges selected when senatorial courtesy is in play, the linkage between presidential preferences and judicial outcomes disappears.