Law: Here Come the Judges

Who should choose them—and how?

Under U.S. law, the President picks federal judges with the advice and consent of the Senate. Under a practice known quaintly as senatorial courtesy, the process has traditionally worked the other way around. A Senator can blackball a nominee to the federal bench in his home state simply by returning a "blue slip" to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senate colleagues invariably honor the blue slip, so Presidents long ago learned to let Senators do the choosing.

Not Jimmy Carter. Federal judges are too important to be political plums,...

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