Senatorial courtesy

Senatorial Courtesy

Senatorial courtesy

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Senatorial courtesy is an unwritten political custom in the United States whereby the president consults the senior U.S. Senator of his political party of a given state before nominating any person to a federal vacancy within that Senator's state. It is strictly observed in connection with the appointments of federal district court judges, U.S. attorneys, and federal marshals. Except in rare cases, the courtesy is typically not extended by the president to a state's senators when the president and senators of said state are of different political parties.

This "courtesy" is less relied upon in the case of vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals. The geographic jurisdiction of these appellate courts often spans two or more states, enlarging the number of senators to be consulted and making consensus or unanimity more difficult. At times, the home state senatorial role is so strong that one senator or both senators acting together make the appointment, and the White House and the entire Senate go along with the home state senator(s).

Senatorial courtesy does not apply in the appointment of Supreme Court justices, though it did during the administration of Grover Cleveland, when political opposition of New York senator David B. Hill prevented Cleveland from gaining confirmation for a replacement to a seat traditionally held by a New Yorker. Cleveland eventually bypassed Hill by disregarding tradition and nominating a sitting senator from......
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