Another prime example would be the failed bid of former New York Attorney, William B. Hornblower who was rejected on what would be best termed as senatorial courtesy. Upon the death of Justice Samuel Blatchford, then President Grover Cleveland needed to replace the vacant seat and decided on selecting another New Yorker to fill the spot. He initially selected William B. Hornblower despite the objections and recommendations of Sen. David B. Hill, D-N. Y. (1892—1897). This decision clearly angered Hill who then prevailed upon the other members of Congress to reject the nomination of Hornblower.
This example of Senatorial Courtesy is one of the two cases regarding the rejection of the a Supreme Court nominee, showing that while the selection of Supreme Court justices should be non-partisan, politicking invariably gets in the way to the detriment of the Justice System. This was not to be the only case of politics being involved in the selection of Supreme Court justices as John C. Spencer was another name that was nominated twice but never really made it because of the failure to gain Senate confirmation twice.
During his first nomination in January of 1844, Spencer was the Secretary of Treasury and had a distinguished judicial record, serving on several high profile cases. However, he was rejected by the Senate in his bid to fill Smith Thompson’s seat and also the seat of Henry Baldwin. It is argued by several political scholars that the failed bid of Spencer was due to the fact that there was partisan politics involved. Due to the southern interests that dominated the Senate at this time, Spencer, a prominent northerner, encountered massive resistance and thus was never able to sway the Senate vote.
Finally, Robert H. Bork was rejected in what was termed as one of the most closely contested confirmation contests in the history of the American justice system. During his last year in the White House, President Ronald Reagan nominated Bork to fill in the vacancy. Due to the necessity of maintaining the integrity of the Supreme Court, the Senate decided to veto the nomination due to the highly conservative views of Bork.
Compounded by the fact that he had been named to replace a “swing vote” on the Court, Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr, Bork was seen as a conservative who would be prejudicial to certain interests. From the foregoing, it is clear that there are several qualifications to consider when selecting a Supreme Court Justice. It must also be remembered that merely having a clean or distinguished record does not guarantee that one’s nomination will be confirmed. Man has been given the freedom of choice by virtue of his free will. While the law may seem like a restraint on such free will, it must be understood that other people possess the same rights and freedoms as well.
Such is the way of societies. Such is the role of law in society. Justices are the sworn defenders of the law and maybe even society. It is an important role and all steps and measures must be undertaken to ensure that they are able to fulfill the obligations of such a role and as such preserve not only the law but society as well. While history may show that this seat may be mired with politics, it is still a system that has been set in place to ensure the integrity and probity of the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court of the United States of America. Works Cited:
ELDER WITT & JOAN BISKUPIC, Congressional Pressure on the Justices: Selection and Rejection, in GUIDE TO THE U. S. SUPREME COURT, 3RD EDITION, VOLUME 2 (1997), available in CQ ELECTRONIC LIBRARY, CQ Supreme Court Collection, http://library. cqpress. com/scc/gussc2-0007549548 (last visited April 3, 2008). Document ID: gussc2-0007549548. Spaeth, H J. and Smith, E. (1991). HarperCollins College Outline: The Constitution of the United States (13th ed. ). New York: HarperCollins. Shaw, Malcolm N (2003). International Law. Cambridge University Press; 5 edition. pp. 1–2. ISBN 978-0521531832