Is there a foolproof way for Supreme Court nominees to not "surprise" presidents with their decisions? Yes, says University of Kentucky political scientist S. Sidnet Ulmer. He thinks the surprises have been due to "faulty analysis." After charting the careers of Supreme Court justices, Ulmer estimates more than one-third have made decisions that would have startled the men who appointed them. The answer: a broader and more-careful analysis of the candidate's record.
He cites President Nixon, who tended to equate judicial conservatism with a tough stand on criminal cases. The result: Nixon appointees Burger, Blackmun, Powell, and Rehquist have voted similarly on criminal cases, but not in many other a reas.m