Finally, presidents want to appoint people who represent groups they feel should be included in the political process, or whose support they want to gain.
Thurgood Marshall was appointed by Lyndon Johnson because he wanted to appoint an African American to the Court.
Clarence Thomas was appointed to fill Marshall's seat.
Bush claimed that he was appointing Thomas because he was the best qualified for the job and not because he was black.
In the past, presidents wanted to make sure that there was at least one Catholic and one Jew on the court.
Hispanic groups were overjoyed when President Obama made the first Hispanic member of the Court in 2009, as interest groups seem more concerned with the political than the denominational views of appointees.
The Supreme Court's composition is shown in Table 10.
Six men and three women are on the court.
Only Judeo-Christian religions have been represented on the Court so far.
Republicans appointed five of the justices.
They have attended many elite universities and law schools.
There have never been any Native Americans or Asian Americans on the Court, and only two African Americans whose terms did not overlap, and one Hispanic.
The Court has a historically elite, white, male, Christian character.
John Marshall barely had any legal educations.
Some observers have suggested that women judges may be more sensitive to issues that aren't relevant to men and may change behavior in the courtroom; the same may be true of minority judges.
The Senate must approve presidential appointments to the Supreme Court.
The Senate majority leader immediately rejected any hearings for Obama's nominee to replace Scalia.
The Senate Judiciary Committee holds hearings and invites the nominee, colleagues, and concerned interest groups to testify.
When the Senate majority party is not the party of the president, the hearings can become political battlefields, as the appointments have become more ideological.
The minority party can still influence the choice if the Senate Republicans don't stop the tradition of using the filibuster.
When interest groups and public opinion get involved in a controversial confirmation battle, the Bork and Thomas hearings are an excellent example of what can happen.
So much is at stake in these political battles.
Justices' ideological ratings were measured.
Andrew Martin is from the Washington University School of Law.
The Supreme Court Database is the basis of the UC Berkeley School of Law.
Justices' ideological voting scores are calculated based on their votes on the cases and relative to other justices, and all cases before the Court arecoded for liberalconservative direction and outcomes.
The Roberts's Court is becoming more conservative.
The introduction of political concerns into the selection process makes it almost certain that political considerations will arise as the justices make their decisions.
The selection of the cases to be heard is the first part of the decision-making process.
The Supreme Court can't possibly hear the eight thousand petitions it receives each year, so screening is necessary to reduce the number to the more manageable eighty to ninety that the Court finally hears.
The majority of the cases heard by the Court come from its appellate, not its original jurisdiction, and of these almost all arrive at the Court in the form of petitions lower court case explains in writing why the Supreme Court should hear its case.
A $300 filing fee is required for petitions to be submitted to the court.
The Court can either deny or grant a writ of certiorari.
The records of the case will be called up from the lower court where it was last heard if it is granted certiorari.
For a case to be heard by the Court, it must be within the Court's jurisdiction, and it must present a real controversy that has injured the petitioner in some way, not just request the Court's advice on an abstract principle.
It must be an appropriate question for the Court, and it must not be the sort of political question usually dealt with by the other two branches of government.
The last rule is open to interpretation by the justices and they may not all agree on what constitutes a political question.
The rules alone do not narrow the Court's caseload to a sufficiently small number of cases, and an enormous amount of work remains for the justices and their staffs, particularly their law clerks.
Law clerks who served a year as clerk to a judge on a lower court have tremendous responsibility over certiorari petitions.
They must read all the petitions and summarize them in a two to five-page memo that includes a recommendation to the justices on whether to hear the case.
Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch require their clerks to read and evaluate all the petitions, which is why seven of the nine current justices of the Court are in a pool.
The clerks in the justices' offices read the memos again and make comments on the advisability of hearing the cases.
The memos with the clerks' comments go to the justices, who decide which cases to grant cert and which to deny.
There are cases that other justices think should be discussed in their Friday afternoon meetings.
The Court's denial of certiorari doesn't mean it supports a lower court's ruling.
It means that the case was not important enough to be heard by the highest court.
Justices who believe strongly that a case should not be denied have been engaged in the practice of "dissenting from the denial" in an effort to persuade other justices to go along with them.
The screening process for cases to be heard by the Supreme Court is less than 5 percent.
The decisions to grant cert are made by novice lawyers without much direction, who operate under enormous time and performance pressures, and by the justices, who rely on the evaluations of these young lawyers while bringing to the process the full array of values and ideologies for which they were.
The product of this process will reflect these characteristics, but there are other influences on the justices and the decision-making process.