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Judicial Recruitment

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on

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Federal judges are nominated by the president and approved by the Senate. There are no other constitutional qualifications for federal judgeships. However, a practice called senatorial courtesy has evolved.

Although there are no Constitutional qualifications for federal judgeships, a set of standards has evolved. The most common background experience among recent Supreme Court nominees is judicial experience. The salaries of federal judges are set by Congress.

By law, judges must be approved by the Senate. An informal practice known as senatorial courtesy has evolved, giving the senior senator of the president’s party substantial control over judicial appointments in his state. However, senatorial courtesy is no longer as extensive as it once was. Also, the American Bar Association screens and ranks candidates, though this is of diminished importance.

Presidents generally seek to appoint judges who share their ideological orientation. Thus, while President Carter sought judges who mirrored the population in race and gender, Presidents Reagan and Bush looked for judges who valued order and appointed fewer women and minorities to the federal bench. President Clinton, like President Carter, sought greater diversity in his appointments.