Judging nominees: An experimental test of the impact of qualifications and divisiveness on public support for nominees to the federal courts

Valerie Hoekstra, Nicholas Larowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


What factors influence how the public judges judicial nominees? In this article we use an experimental approach to examine how variations in the qualifications and ideological and partisan divisiveness of a federal appellate court nominee affect support for confirmation of that nominee. Our results suggest that while both factors matter in evaluations of judicial nominees, the divisiveness and subjects’ ideology tend to be more important than qualifications. Moreover, we find evidence that the effect of qualifications, ideology, and divisiveness are conditional on institutional legitimacy. Those who hold the federal courts in high regard tend to weigh qualifications and judiciousness more than ideology. Those who hold federal courts with less regard tend to weigh ideology more than qualifications and judiciousness. Finally, we find evidence that subjects appear to view ideological moderation as an important qualification for office.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-61
Number of pages24
JournalJustice System Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law

Cite this