One of the critical responsibilities that 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 lifetime tenure and must resolve disputes implicating the basic freedoms of America's citizens. President Clinton's careful discharge of this crucial duty may well have yielded the foremost success of his first term in office. When then-Governor Clinton campaigned for the presidency in 1992, he promised to name intelligent judges who possess balanced judicial temperament and evince a commitment to protecting the individual rights enumerated in the Constitution. The candidate also pledged to increase gender and racial balance on the federal courts. The judicial selection record that Clinton compiled during his initial four years as Chief Executive shows that he has kept his covenant with the American people by appointing highly qualified federal judges and by creating a bench that more closely reflects the composition of American society.
Now that President Clinton has secured a second term, judicial selection in the Clinton administration warrants evaluation. This Essay first analyzes how the Chief Executive chose judges during his first term and finds that his administration articulated clear selection goals and implemented efficacious procedures for appointing members to the federal judiciary. The Essay then offers suggestions for naming judges during the second term. If President Clinton institutes effective measures for choosing judges, federal judicial selection could be the area in which his administration leaves its greatest legacy.
Carl Tobias, Choosing Federal Judges in the Second Clinton Administration, 24 Hastings Const. L.Q. 741 (1997)