Representative Appointments: The Effect of Women's Groups in Contentious Supreme Court Confirmations

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A large share of decision makers in modern democratic systems are appointed. To what degree do those officials represent constituents? Representation in this case is determined in part by the extent to which constituents influence the appointment process. This article examines the influence of women's organized interests and constituency preferences on Supreme Court confirmation votes. With topics such as sexual harassment, privacy, and Roe v. Wade looming large, gender politics became a salient issue during confirmation battles in the late 1980s and early 1990s and has remained so since. Original data from the contentious appointments of Justices David Souter, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and Sonia Sotomayor are analyzed. Results confirm that women's organized interests and popular preferences have an impact on contentious nominations. Implications for popular influences on appointments and for representation in government writ large are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Women, Politics and Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Supreme Court appointments
  • organized interests
  • political appointments
  • representation
  • women groups
  • women's representation

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


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