DP10158 | Storable Votes and Judicial Nominations in the U.S. Senate

Publication Date

21/09/2014

JEL Code(s)

Keyword(s)

Programme Area(s)

Abstract

We model a procedural reform aimed at restoring a proper role for the minority in the confirmation process of judicial nominations in the U.S. Senate. We propose that nominations to the same level court be collected in periodic lists and voted upon individually with Storable Votes, allowing each senator to allocate freely a fixed number of total votes. Although each nomination is decided by simple majority, storable votes make it possible for the minority to win occasionally, but only when the relative importance its members assign to a nomination is higher than the relative importance assigned by the majority. Numerical simulations, motivated by a game theoretic model, show that under plausible assumptions a minority of 45 senators would be able to block between 20 and 35 percent of nominees. For most parameter values, the possibility of minority victories increases aggregate welfare.