Editorial: Senate Republicans’ refusal to consider Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination is dangerous obstructionism
The stubborn refusal of Senate Republicans to consider any Supreme Court nominee offered by President Obama would be outrageous, regardless of whom the president selected to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia. But Obama’s announcement Wednesday that he will nominate Merrick Garland, a moderate federal appeals court judge who has won bipartisan praise during a long and distinguished legal career, puts the Republicans’ irresponsibility and cheap partisanship in even starker relief.
Garland, 63, is the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, on which he served with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who once said that “any time Judge Garland disagrees, you know you’re in a difficult area.”
Incredibly, Obama and Garland had barely finished a Rose Garden news conference before prominent Republicans reiterated that they would refuse to give Garland fair consideration. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) dusted off the specious argument that because Obama is in his final year as president, his exercise of his appointment power must be held hostage to the results of the November election. “Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy,” McConnell pleaded.
This is a preposterous argument, and a cynical one to boot.
The ‘Biden Rule’ isn’t as damning as Republicans are framing it
Perhaps the biggest supporting role in the Supreme Court nomination battle goes to Vice President Joe Biden, a veteran of these battles who is also known for his often-memorable lines.
President Obama relied on Biden as a regular sounding board throughout the process, one who was advocating a “consensus candidate,” according to a person familiar with the process.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also has enlisted Biden to make the opposing case — for blocking the nominee.
The GOP leader is relying on a summer 1992 speech given by Biden, then-chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In the address, Biden urged President George H.W. Bush not to send a court nominee for confirmation so close to a presidential election.
“President Bush should consider following the practice of the majority of his predecessors and not — not — name a nominee until after the November election is completed,” Biden said from the Senate floor at the time.
McConnell gave another reminder of that speech Wednesday as Republicans have repeatedly since it surfaced a few weeks ago, dubbing Biden’s proposal the Biden Rule.
“Let me remind colleagues what Vice President Biden said when he was Judiciary Chairman here in the Senate,” McConnell said from the Senate floor.
McConnell has drawn heavily on the Biden Rule to defend the Senate GOP’s snap decision last month after Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden death to refuse to even consider Obama’s nominee, no matter who it turned out to be.
But Biden allies and others say the situations are not comparable.
First, no actual Supreme Court vacancy existed when Biden gave that address.
“This was in June; there was nobody even being considered at the time,” Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the minority leader, said recently.
“Now understand, Joe has made a few statements over the years on a lot of things, but in this one instance, it really doesn’t mean a thing because nothing was pending.”
And more importantly for Democrats, Biden also said in that same speech that if Bush consulted extensively with Democrats or “moderates” about his selection, an election-year nomination could win Biden’s support.
Biden offered his own spin on the “Biden Rule” on Twitter after the Garland announcement:
Mitch McConnell tells Merrick Garland by phone: No meeting
As phone calls go, this was not a long conversation.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decided it would be “more considerate” to speak to Judge Merrick Garland directly by phone Wednesday.
And so when the White House asked McConnell if he would like to speak with President Obama’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, the Kentucky Republican got on the line.
He quickly made clear his position that he doesn’t intend to let the Senate vote on Garland’s nomination while Obama remains in office.
“The leader reiterated his position that the American people will have a voice in this vacancy and that the Senate will appropriately revisit the matter when it considers the qualifications of the person the next president nominates,” according to a statement from a McConnell aide.
“And since the Senate will not be acting on this nomination, he would not be holding a perfunctory meeting, but he wished Judge Garland well.”
Even in high school, Garland was seen destined for success
When Merrick Garland attended Niles West High School in the late 1960s, he was the sort of young man who seemed destined for big things. He was valedictorian and head of the student council, the possessor of a long list of academic honors.
But as Garland tries to gain a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, classmate James Donenberg said his time on the school’s debate team might prove to be the most relevant part of his past.
“He’s always been a person who wants to look at every side of an issue,” said Donenberg, now an accountant in Northbrook, Ill. “He wants to understand things, all points of view. He tries not to be judgmental in that sense. He’s very fair-minded about everything.”
Garland’s friends and former schoolmates reacted with pride upon learning that President Obama had nominated him for a seat on the nation’s highest court. They recalled him as intelligent, kind, popular and successful at anything he tried, from winning the lead role in a school play to claiming first place in a statewide science contest.
“Whenever anyone talked about the top student in the class, it was Merrick Garland,” recalled classmate Howard Bulgatz.
Garland grew up in Lincolnwood, Ill. His father was a small businessman and his mother was a community volunteer. According to the White House, he worked in a shoe store and sold his comic book collection to help pay his way through Harvard University and Harvard Law School.
Dr. Robert Loitz, a pediatric cardiologist in Los Angeles, was one year behind Garland at Niles West and had known him since elementary school, Loitz recalled Wednesday. In high school, they participated in Niles West’s championship academic teams for the Prep Bowl and “It’s Academic,” a televised competition that garnered a great deal of attention, Loitz said.
“You look back on it, it’s almost inevitable that he would have ended up in a position like this,” said Loitz, who recalled that Garland was “a great role model to the rest of us because he was very level-headed … very disciplined, mature and friendly, always a calming influence.”
Like Loitz, Garland loved trivia and enjoyed playing bridge with an intellectually focused group at Niles West, Loitz recalled. Garland and Loitz also served on a student advocacy group that formally opposed education cuts at Niles West, Loitz said. The two also called for eliminating a system that awarded honors-track students an additional point on their grade-point average for taking an honors course.
The two boys believed that system “stratified people,” Loitz said.
Garland was very focused on getting to Harvard and becoming a lawyer, Loitz added. His selection as valedictorian seemed “preordained” because of his “special talents,” Loitz added, “but he never had that air about him. He was very approachable.”
After graduation, the two men lost touch — Garland headed to Harvard; Loitz to Stanford.
Jason Ness, the current principal of Niles West, in Skokie, Ill, said students and faculty watched on television Wednesday morning as Obama introduced Garland as his nominee.
“This is the ultimate role model here in Judge Garland,” Ness said. “For the kids to understand that this was a student at one point, sitting in the same seats and chairs, will motivate them to really go above and beyond themselves and to reach out to help others.”
Read the full transcript: Remarks by President Obama announcing Merrick Garland as his Supreme Court nominee
I’ve selected a nominee who is widely recognized not only as one of America’s sharpest legal minds, but someone who brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, even-handedness, and excellence. These qualities, and his long commitment to public service, have earned him the respect and admiration of leaders from both sides of the aisle.
— President Obama
Opinion: Merrick Garland nomination could put GOP in no-win situation
President Obama’s nomination of federal appeals court Judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court led some pundits to declare that Republicans would be hard-pressed to oppose him. But as Republicans and conservative groups made abundantly clear within minutes of the announcement, the issue isn’t who got nominated. It’s who did the nominating.
“Nominee Makes No Difference,” as the Concerned Women for America put it succinctly in the headline of its news release Wednesday morning. “This nomination will upset the balance of the Supreme Court to the radical left for many decades. Such a seismic shift in the highest court of the land must be presented to the people,” said Penny Nance, the group’s president.
Granted, when you’re standing where Nance is standing, anyone to the left of John Kasich looks radical. But the polarization around this issue could put Republican senators in a no-win position.
Ted Cruz attacks Donald Trump over President Obama’s high court nominee
In saying he would refuse to consider Judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court, Sen. Ted Cruz attacked not President Obama, but his own GOP rival Donald Trump.
The conservative Texas presidential hopeful called Obama’s pick for the court exactly the kind of “so-called ‘moderate’” that Trump would choose as a compromise with Democrats.
“We cannot afford to lose the Supreme Court for generations to come by nominating or confirming someone that a deal maker like Donald Trump would support,” Cruz said.
“I proudly stand with my Republican colleagues in our shared belief - our advice and consent - that we should not vote on any nominee until the next president is sworn into office. The people will decide.”
Among those who rejected Merrick Garland last time? Two now-notable GOP senators
By many measures, Judge Merrick Garland is what Washington calls a consensus nominee for the Supreme Court.
But the Senate’s 76-23 vote to approve his confirmation to the District of Columbia Circuit Court in 1997 contained two notable dissents.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), now the Senate Majority Leader, and Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), now the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, were among the no votes.
GOP aides explained that Grassley’s objections at the time — like now — were not over the person, but the process.
There were too many judges on the D.C. court for the workload, he believed.
Hillary Clinton urges Senate confirmation of Merrick Garland
While on the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton has repeatedly blasted Senate Republican leaders for saying they wouldn’t consider any Supreme Court nominee from President Obama in an election year.
She repeated those criticisms on Wednesday after Obama nominated federal judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy created by the death of Antonin Scalia.
Why Obama chose Garland: It wasn’t political, but it doesn’t hurt politically either
President Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court is a highly credentialed, sober jurist who checks exactly none of the boxes drawn out by Democratic strategists who were hoping the pick might be useful in the November elections.
Merrick Garland is a white man from Chicago, a 63-year-old with a centrist record and a career story as neat as his shock of white hair.
As Obama said in the Rose Garden on Wednesday, though, he set aside “short-term expediency and narrow politics” to make his choice.
He’s not turning away from politics altogether, of course. If he successfully paints Republicans as unfairly stubborn, that still likely helps Democrats in the fall elections. And if Obama is really successful, he could conceivably score another political win by forcing Republicans to hold confirmation hearings for Garland.
But Obama is also thinking about his own legacy. A fresh illustration of Republican intransigence, especially on a compromise proposal, potentially highlights the stonewalling that he sees as an important theme of his presidency.
A constitutional lawyer who reveres the high court, Obama cast his decision in historic terms.
He felt he had to “maintain faith with our founders,” he said, “and perhaps more importantly with future generations.”
Especially those who will write his history.
Senate Republicans up for reelection risk campaign attacks in refusing to consider Supreme Court nominee
A handful of swing-state Republicans up for reelection this fall face scrutiny over their refusal to consider President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court.
Though Republican voters are generally pleased with the Senate GOP’s decision to block any nominee, independent voters in an unusual election cycle that could select Donald Trump as the Republican nominee are less supportive.
Most voters disagree with the GOP’s approach, according to the most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
That means potentially tough campaigns ahead for Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Sen.Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, among others, as they fight to keep the Senate in Republican control.
Even before Obama nominated Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia, the attack ads began on TV.
Digital ads followed Wednesday against Ayotte, part of a $1.5-million effort directing voters to a website “where they can further learn about Kelly Ayotte siding with Trump and her party bosses in refusing to consider any Supreme Court nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia,” according to a statement from Senate Majority PAC.
Ayotte issued a statement Wednesday about the nominee and her decision to wait until the next president is elected to confirm a new justice on the high court.
“In the midst of a presidential election and a consequential debate about the future of our country, I believe the American people deserve to have a voice in the direction of the court,” she said. “I continue to believe the Senate should not move forward with the confirmation process until the people have spoken by electing a new president.”
Portman also stuck with the congressional GOP leadership’s argument that the decision to wait was “about the principle, not the person.”
“After the election, I look forward to considering the nominee of our new president,” Portman said.
The head of the Republicans’ campaign committee, Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, has said the GOP’s position is sustainable through the November election.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee portrayed Garland as “a liberal, an activist, and one of Obama’s most reliable allies in the judicial system.”
Besides, GOP strategists have said, they doubt the court battle will become a deciding issue as voters cast ballots in fall.
A bit of wiggle room was offered Wednesday by Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, who did not explicitly say he wouldn’t consider Garland, only that he wouldn’t vote for him.
“The president has every right to nominate someone, and the Senate has the constitutional responsibility to decide if it’s the right person at the right time. I will not vote for this nominee to the Supreme Court.”
Merrick Garland would be fourth Jewish member of high court
When Woodrow Wilson chose Louis D. Brandeis for the Supreme Court, the prospect that the nation’s highest judicial body would include a Jewish member was so controversial that for the first time in history, the Senate held public hearings on a high court nomination.
One hundred years later, the Supreme Court could have four Jewish justices if President Obama’s choice of Merrick B. Garland is confirmed. The other five justices are Catholics.
Protestants dominated the Supreme Court’s ranks for most of U.S. history, but no member of the court has been a Protestant since Justice David Souter retired in 2009 and was replaced by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
From the time of Brandeis’ appointment until 1969, the high court had what was often referred to as a “Jewish seat,” filled, in succession, by Brandeis and Justices Felix Frankfurter, Arthur Goldberg and Abe Fortas. After Fortas left the court in 1969, there were no Jewish justices until President Bill Clinton appointed Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993.
When Clinton appointed Stephen Breyer the following year, the court had two Jewish justices for only the second time — the previous being while Justices Brandeis and Benjamin Cardozo both served from 1932 to 1938.
Justice Elena Kagan, appointed by Obama in 2010, is the third current Jewish member of the court.
Garland would be the oldest Supreme Court justice in 40 years
At 63, Merrick Garland was seen by some as too old to be named to the Supreme Court.
Presidents nowadays prefer to elevate younger judges, in their 40s and 50s, who can have an impact on the Supreme Court for several decades.
If confirmed, Garland would be the oldest justice in more than 40 years, since President Richard Nixon named Lewis F. Powell Jr., then 64, to the court in 1972.
When Nixon asked Powell to take the appointment, Powell initially demurred, saying that he was too old. Nixon told him, as Nixon later wrote, that “10 years of Lewis Powell on the court was worth 20 years for anyone else.”
Even so, Garland’s age probably means this could be his last chance to reach the high court. It’s unclear whether a future Democratic president would nominate him again, when he is even older, for a subsequent opening.
That explains why Garland might be willing to put himself through what promises to be a bruising confirmation battle.
— Edmund Sanders
Indian village’s Supreme Court prayers for Srinivasan go unanswered
The prayers of a southern Indian village went unanswered Wednesday morning when President Obama named Merrick Garland as his next Supreme Court nominee.
Distant relatives and well-wishers of Sri Srinivasan, above, believed to be a strong candidate for the nomination, had been holding services in his honor in the riverside hamlet of Mela Thiruvenkatanathapuram, where Srinivasan’s father and grandfather were born.
Obama: Merrick Garland is ‘one of America’s sharpest legal minds’
President Obama said Wednesday he will nominate federal Judge Merrick Garland to serve on the Supreme Court, challenging the resolve of Republican senators opposed to an election-year confirmation by naming an experienced jurist with a strong reputation as a centrist.
In an appearance with Garland in the White House Rose Garden, Obama praised Garland as the kind of candidate he had promised to choose: one with sterling credentials and widely respected temperament.
Garland is known as “one of America’s sharpest legal minds,” Obama said, adding that he “brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, even-handedness and excellence.”
“These qualities and his long commitment to public service have earned him the respect and admiration from leaders from both sides of the aisle,” Obama said.
Obama aides believe his nomination may move senators off their repeated pledge not to hold meetings with the nominee of a president who has less than a year left in his term.
Some officials in the White House even believe they stand a shot of a Senate confirmation hearing for Garland.
House Speaker Paul Ryan doesn’t have a vote on Supreme Court nominee, but weighs in
As Obama asked for up-or-down vote, a top Democrat asked for a deadline
Making Obama’s pick official
Supreme Court nomination faces Senate’s partisan lines
Senators fell quickly along partisan lines as they reacted to President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.
Rank-and-file Republicans continued to insist that they will block consideration of any nominee until a new president is in the White House -- a position that pleases the conservative base but is rejected in polls by most Americans.
Democrats closed ranks to back Obama’s choice, reminding that Garland was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate for his job on the U.S. Circuit Court.
Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said Obama “has chosen carefully, and well.”
“Chief Judge Garland is undeniably fair-minded and independent, and it is no wonder that he has received praise from across the political spectrum. He should be confirmed without controversy.”
Republicans, though, pledged to refuse to consider Obama’s choice, regardless of his qualifications.
“While the president has the constitutional authority to make a nomination to fill this vacancy, the Senate also has the authority and responsibility to determine how to move forward with it,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate.
“At this critical juncture in our nation’s history, Texans and the American people deserve to have a say in the selection of the next lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court,” he said. “The only way to empower the American people and ensure they have a voice is for the next president to make the nomination to fill this vacancy.”
Other Republicans were more measured with their opposition.
“The president has every right to nominate someone, and the Senate has the constitutional responsibility to decide if it’s the right person at the right time,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). “I will not vote for this nominee to the Supreme Court.”
But Democrats repeated the president’s call on the Senate to do its job.
“The president has fulfilled his constitutional responsibility and now the U.S. Senate must do the same,” said Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), the assistant minority leader, noting Garland was born in Chicago.
“No Senate has ever denied a hearing to a presidential nominee to fill a Supreme Court vacancy,” Durbin said. “In the name of fairness and our Constitution, the Senate Republican majority must do its job and give Judge Garland a public hearing and a timely vote.”
Obama is emphasizing Garland’s past bipartisan appeal
Ultimately Merrick was confirmed to the D.C. Circuit with votes from a majority of Democrats and a majority of Republicans. ... Over my seven years as president ... the one name that has come up repeatedly from Republicans and Democrats alike has been Merrick Garland.
Obama calls Garland’s record ‘sterling’
Obama: ‘It’s a decision that requires me to set aside short-term expediency or narrow politics’
Cloudless day for Obama’s announcement
What the White House is saying about Merrick Garland
A White House official who wouldn’t be named speaking ahead of President Obama’s announcement offered a preview Wednesday of the argument Obama will be making to Senate Republicans and the public on behalf of his Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland:
- “No one is better suited to immediately serve.”
- “He has cultivated a reputation as a brilliant, meticulous judge with a knack for building consensus, playing it straight and deciding every case based on what the law requires.”
- And, in a quote from a leading Senate Republican that will likely be cited ad nauseam by Democrats in the coming weeks: “Sen. Orrin Hatch said he saw Chief Judge Garland as ‘a consensus nominee’ for the Supreme Court, adding ‘I have no doubts that Garland would get a lot of votes. And I will do my best to help him get them.’”
Sen. Harry Reid to Senate GOP: Do your job
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to weigh in on President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, opening the Senate without much comment — or details of GOP plans to block a vote — until the White House’s official announcement Wednesday.
“I’ll have more to say on that later this morning,” the Kentucky Republican said.
But Sen. Harry Reid, the minority leader, did not pass up the opportunity to punch back at Senate Republicans’ refusal to conduct their usual role of providing advice and consent process.
“For 100 years we’ve had these hearings in public,” said Reid, the Nevada Democrat, calling the blockade “hard to comprehend.”
“I hope that President Obama’s nomination of an exceptionally qualified and consensus nominee will persuade the Senate Republicans to change course,” Reid said.
“Give President Obama’s nominee a meeting, a hearing and a vote.”
Reid said the president is “doing his job this morning,” and the Senate “should do theirs.”
Recap: Obama announces Supreme Court nominee
Watch President Obama announce his pick of Judge Merrick Garland to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.
No reaction yet from Senate leader
A top Senate Republican said last week that Garland was a ‘fine man’
Earlier this morning:
Obama’s pick: Federal Judge Merrick Garland, a possible compromise
President Obama intends to nominate Merrick Garland, the chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, to the Supreme Court, two congressional officials said Wednesday.
A judicial moderate who at 63 is older than other finalists, Garland could be meant to signal compromise on Obama’s part, as Republicans have vowed not to consider any potential nominee. Still, Obama has the opportunity to tilt the nation’s highest court to a liberal majority for the first time in a generation.
Donald Trump: Obama should leave the pick to the next White House
Congress should not consider President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination, Donald Trump said Wednesday, insisting the choice be left to Obama’s successor.
Merrick Garland’s moderate views seen as harder for conservatives to oppose
Merrick Garland has long been the potential Supreme Court nominee that President Obama wanted to keep in reserve for a rainy day, and on Wednesday the president decided the current tough political climate presents just such an emergency.
Seen as a moderate judge with conservative backing, Garland, the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, was considered by Obama for previous Supreme Court nominations during the president’s first term.
But the White House decided to hold off in case Democrats lost the Senate majority and Obama needed a nomination that Republicans would have difficulty defeating. Instead, Obama in past battles nominated Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, younger judges seen as more left-leaning.
At 63, Garland was seen by some as too old for the high court, because presidents nowadays typically prefer to elevate younger judges who can have an impact for several decades.
But in the end, Obama opted for a respected judge who he hopes will be harder for Republicans to defeat.
Senate Republicans have their battle cry
Supreme Court will quickly become a campaign issue
President Obama will be announcing his Supreme Court nominee Wednesday as the dust settles on a primary election night in which both parties’ front-runners, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, appeared to fortify their leads among delegates needed to secure their nominations.
Clinton used her celebratory remarks in Florida on Tuesday night to highlight her economic message, but also to lay a marker on the battle over the high court.
“We can’t just talk about economic inequality. We have to take on all forms of inequality and discrimination,” she said. “Together we have to defend all of our rights – civil rights and voting rights, workers’ rights and women’s rights, LGBT rights and rights for people with disabilities. And that starts by standing with President Obama when he nominates a justice to the Supreme Court.”
The former secretary of State can be expected to “forcefully argue” in the coming days and weeks that the Senate should “do its job and consider the president’s nominee,” Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said.
“We will certainly point to the makeup of the high court as a major example of the high stakes of this election, with issues like immigration, women’s health and voting rights all looming,” he said.
Notably, though, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said earlier this week that Obama’s extensive consultations with Democrats and Republicans over the Supreme Court vacancy did not include Clinton. The White House did reach out to the office of Clinton’s rival for the nomination, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, as it did with the 99 other senators who would ultimately have a vote in the process.
“The president is not making this decision based on any sort of political consideration,” Earnest said in explaining why Obama would not discuss the issue with Clinton. “He’s making this decision specifically on who he believes would be the best justice on the Supreme Court to fill that vacancy.”
Obama makes pick to replace Antonin Scalia on Supreme Court, says he’ll announce today
President Obama will announce his choice for a seat on the Supreme Court on Wednesday, setting up a battle with Senate Republicans over constitutional prerogatives and the ideological balance of the nation’s highest court.
The president will make a formal announcement of the “eminently qualified” choice at the Rose Garden at 8 a.m. Pacific, he said in an email to supporters.
“As president, it is both my constitutional duty to nominate a justice and one of the most important decisions that I -- or any president -- will make,” Obama wrote.
“I’m confident you’ll share my conviction that this American is not only eminently qualified to be a Supreme Court justice, but deserves a fair hearing, and an up-or-down vote,” he added, nodding to the fierce fight with senators that lies ahead.
The medium list
President Obama said he has chosen a Supreme Court nominee; he had recently narrowed his list to three. Check out who made -- and didn’t quite make -- the short list:
A look back at the complex legacy of Antonin Scalia
What the late Justice Antonin Scalia left behind: intellectual purity, supreme self-confidence — and uncompromising positions that made him at times a surprisingly less effective justice.
How long will Supreme Court confirmation take?
With Republicans vowing they will not even meet with President Obama’s nominee, there’s a strong chance that this confirmation process will break previous records, and still may end in failure.
There is no legal time limit for how long filling a Supreme Court seat should take. From presidential nomination to Senate Judiciary Committee review to Senate confirmation, action can take days, weeks, even months. A few vacancies have lasted two years, although none recently.
Here’s a look at how long it took for recent justices.
Elena Kagan: 87 days
Sonia Sotomayor: 66 days
Samuel A. Alito Jr.: 82 days
John G. Roberts Jr.: 23 days (Roberts initially had been nominated to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. When Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died, President Bush withdrew the earlier nomination and submitted Roberts for the chief justice position.)
Stephen G. Breyer: 73 days
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 50 days
Clarence Thomas: 99 days
Anthony M. Kennedy: 65 days
Antonin Scalia: 85 days
Immigration, abortion and other major issues on the line with a Supreme Court vacancy
From immigration to abortion to union fees, the Supreme Court vacancy is affecting numerous cases pending before the Supreme Court, including several that were expected to split along ideological or political lines with 5-4 votes.
Instead, some of those votes could now deadlock, 4 to 4, meaning a lower court’s ruling on the issue would stand.
Catch up on some of the key cases this term and what might happen:
Back story: Supreme Court battles are increasingly common
As the White House and Senate Republicans prepare to face off over the latest Supreme Court nomination, many are asking: Does “advise and consent” still work?
The Times’ David G. Savage and Michael A. Memoli took at look at how it has worked in the past: