Keeping Appointments: The Politics of Confirming United States Attorneys

Michael J. Nelson, Ian Ostrander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


As the gatekeepers of federal law, U.S. Attorneys have a strong influence on legal policy. While U.S. Attorneys are presidential appointees subject to Senate confirmation, the rules governing their appointments differ significantly from those used for executive and judicial nominees. Specifically, U.S. District Courts may name interim appointees if prolonged stalemate occurs. When combined with other recent rules changes favoring presidents, U.S. Attorney nominations provide an opportunity to observe how variations in rules influence the confirmation process. Examining all U.S. Attorney nominations between 1987 and 2010, we find evidence that U.S. Attorneys are generally confirmed faster than other executive or judicial nominations even while familiar predictors of delay remain important. The findings have broad implications for the study of appointments and confirmation politics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-231
Number of pages21
JournalJustice System Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Law


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