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Bench Press: The Collision of Courts, Politics, and the Media

Keith J. Bybee

Stanford University Press, December 2007

Bench Press: The Collision of Courts, Politics, and the Media

Federal court confirmations in the United States have become openly political affairs, with partisans lining up to support their preferred candidates. Matters in the states are not much different, with once sleepy judicial elections changing into ever more contentious political slugfests, replete with single-issue interest groups and negative campaign advertising. Once on the bench, judges at every level find themselves dogged by charges of politically motivated decision-making.

In this first-of-its-kind collection, prominent figures from the academy, the bench, and the press reflect on the state of the American judiciary. Using the results of a specially commissioned public opinion poll as a starting point, the contributors examine the complex mix of legal principle, political maneuvering, and press coverage that swirl around judicial selection and judicial decision making today.

Essays examine the rise of explicitly political state judicial elections, the merits of judicial appointments, the rhetoric of federal judicial confirmation hearings, the quality of legal reporting, the portrayal of courts on the Internet, the inevitable tensions between judges and journalists, and the importance of regulating judicial appearances.

Campbell Public Affairs Institute
306 Eggers Hall