On May 9, President George H.W. Bush announced his first set of nominees for the United States Courts of Appeals. With a White House ceremony which chief executives traditionally reserve for United States Supreme Court designees, the president introduced eleven individuals whom he proposed for vacancies on the federal intermediate appellate courts. Submitting a package of appeals court nominees might seem to be a relatively mundane exercise. However, the developments that led to Bush's recommendations, the staging of this event, and the candidates tendered actually reveal much about contemporary judicial selection, which is a critical feature of constitutional governance. For example, the determination that there should be a ceremony suggests the crucial symbolic and practical importance the nascent Bush Administration assigns to filling empty appellate court seats. The persons whom the president earlier considered but did not nominate on May 9 are similarly instructive.
These propositions mean that the initial batch of Bush Administration nominees for the appeals courts warrants analysis. This essay undertakes that effort. I first examine the background of the May 9th announcement. The essay then evaluates the process· that the chief executive and his assistants used to nominate the candidates, as well as the qualifications of the people chosen and those individuals whom the president considered, yet decided against proposing. I next posit numerous lessons that can be derived from assessing the method that the chief executive and his staff employed to select the initial nominees and the persons nominated. The essay concludes with several recommendations for the future appointment of judges.
Carl Tobias, The Bush Administration and Appeals Courts Nominees, 10 Wm. & Mary Bill Rts. J. 103 (2001)