Skip to main content

Understanding the U.S. Supreme Court Nomination Process

Yesterday, the White House announced that Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and a former U.S. Justice Department lawyer will be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. Much has already been made of the coming Senate confirmation battle, with Senate republicans vowing to refuse to hold hearings or vote for any nominees in the election year. Since the late 1960s, the Judiciary Committee's consideration of a Supreme Court nominee almost always has consisted of three distinct stages-(1) a pre-hearing investigative stage, followed by (2) public hearings, and concluding with (3) a committee decision on what recommendation to make to the full Senate.

Here’s what we know from the history of Supreme Court nominations and appointments, from just a few of the many library resources devoted to the topic:

The entire nomination-and-confirmation process (from when the President first learned of a vacancy to final Senate action) has generally taken almost twice as long for nominees after 1980 than for nominees in the previous 80 years. From 1900 to 1980, the entire process took a median of 59 days; from 1981 through 2006, the process took a median of 113 days. For more information on the process, check out the CRS Report Speed of Presidential and Senate Actions on Supreme Court Nominations, 1900-2006 (2007).
   
Since the late 1960s, the Judiciary Committee's consideration of a Supreme Court nominee almost always has consisted of three distinct stages-(1) a pre-hearing  investigative  stage, followed by (2) public hearings, and concluding with (3) a committee decision on what recommendation to make to the full Senate.

A 2008 CRS report, Supreme Court Nominees Not Confirmed, found that there were 158 presidential nominations to the Court between 1789 and 2007, with 36 nominations failing to win confirmation from the Senate. Most recently, Texas attorney Harriet Miers’ 2005 nomination by President George W. Bush was withdrawn.


For a complete look at the process of Supreme Court nominees and their journey to the bench, Law Center users can spend hours paging through HeinOnline’s History of Supreme Court Nominations Library. The materials include the complete Hearings and Reports on Successful and Unsuccessful Nominations of Supreme Court Justices by the Senate Judiciary Committee (1977-present) as well as biographies, commentaries, and scholarly articles about and by nearly all nominees to the Court, beginning with John Jay. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Law School Exams: A Guide to Better Grades

It’s that time of year again. Law students across the country are poring over their class notes and supplements, putting the finishing touches on their outlines, and fueling their all-night study sessions with a combination of high-carb snacks and Java Monsters. This can mean only one thing: exam time is approaching.

If you’re looking for a brief but effective guide to improving your exam performance, the O’Quinn Law Library has the book for you. Alex Schimel’s Law School Exams: A Guide to Better Grades, now in its second edition, provides a clear and concise strategy for mastering the issue-spotting exams that determine the majority of your grade in most law school classes. Schimel finished second in his class at the University Of Miami School Of Law, where he taught a wildly popular exam workshop in his 2L and 3L years, and later returned to become Associate Director of the Academic Achievement Program. The first edition of his book was written shortly after he finished law school, …

Citing to Vernon's Texas Codes Annotated: Finding Accurate Publication Dates (without touching a book)

When citing to a current statute, both the Bluebook (rule 12.3.2) and Greenbook (rule 10.1.1) require a  practitioner to provide the publication date of the bound volume in which the cited code section appears. For example, let's cite to the codified statute section that prohibits Texans from hunting or selling bats, living or dead. Note, however, you may remove or hunt a bat that is inside or on a building occupied by people. The statute is silent as to Batman, who for his own safety, best stay in Gotham City.
This section of the Texas Parks and Wildlife code is 63.101. "Protection of Bats." After checking the pocket part and finding no updates in the supplement, my citation will be:
Tex. Parks & Wild. Code Ann. § 63.101 (West ___ ). When I look at the statute in my bound volume of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code, I can clearly see that the volume's publication date is 2002. But, when I find the same citation on Westlaw or LexisNexis, all I can see is that the …