Current Research Projects


King, Jonathan M. and Ian Ostrander. 2020. “Prioritizing Judicial Nominations after Presidential Transitions.” Presidential Studies Quarterly 50 (3): 592-610. [PDF]

We use a unique dataset of all district court federal judicial vacancies from 1981-2019 that exist at the start of a president coming to their first term in office. We find significant variation in the time administrations take to nominate judges. Furthermore, presidents prioritize nominations to districts with multiple vacancies or those that have senators politically aligned with the administration.

Cox PH Models. Presidents are consistently slower than Reagan at nominating district nominees. Courts with high vacancy rates consistently are prioritized by administrations.

Kaplan-Meier curve for blue slips condition. Presidents facing opposed delegations delay their nominations significantly more slowly than when facing allied or mixed delegation.

Working Papers:

“Just a Number? The Impact of Age on Federal Judicial Nominations”

I examine the impact of age on confirmation success for federal judicial nominations. Using a novel dataset of over 2,500 lower court nominations from 1981-2020, I find that age impacts a nominee’s chances of being confirmed but this is conditioned by several factors. Older circuit nominees are more likely to be confirmed but no effect occurs for district nominations. However, previous judicial experience can dramatically increase a young circuit nominee’s confirmation prospects. Further, these findings shift following the 2013 “Nuclear Option.”

First Differences plot showing the impact of previous federal judicial experience on circuit nominee success. Previous judgeship eliminates the impact of age at the circuit court. For non-judges, older nominees are more likely to be confirmed. Further, a younger nominee with previous judicial experience is more likely to be confirmed than an older nominees with no previous judicial experience
The impact of the 2013 rules change (a.k.a., the “Nuclear Option”) on circuit nomination success. Before the rules change, older circuit court nominees were more likely to be confirmed. Following the rules change, age is no longer significantly impacting nomination success and goes so far as to flip the sign of the coefficient.