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How political influences shape judicial decisions

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Briefly describe some of the political influences on judicial decisions; be sure to include public opinion, the other branches of government, and partisan beliefs.

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Solution Summary

This solution examines political influences on judicial decisions in the United States. Issues discussed include how the political balance of power in Congress affect the nomination process; how federal judges are appointed rather than elected; the individual experiences and biases of the judges; and the possible influence of public opinion.

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I would say that first of all, every federal judge is appointed by a sitting President who comes from either the Democrat or Republican parties. Depending on the strength of the sitting President's party in the Senate (which under the Constitution gets to advise and consent to these appointments), that President may or may not be able to have his appointment confirmed. So for example, President Obama nominated Sonya Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. This was done at the peak of Obama's political power relatively early in this first term. Sotomayor is a well-known liberal judge with a track record of supporting liberal viewpoints and generally issuing judicial decisions that follow a politically liberal judicial philosophy. Even if the Republicans had decided to fight this nomination as hard as they could, they lacked the numbers in the Senate to stop Obama's pick from being confirmed. Thus Sotomayor is now on the Supreme Court and can be expected to interpret cases in line with expectations (in a so-called liberal way). However, should another vacancy open up on the Supreme Court Obama will have a tougher time because the Republicans are ...

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