Riding the Bench: The Politics of Nominating and Confirming Justices to the United States Supreme Court
Carmody, Ryan P., 1996-
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At several points in history, presidents have been tasked with filling vacancies on the Supreme Court, as it is within their power to do so. Each nomination must be confirmed by the Senate, who then votes whether to put the nominee on the court or not. As the years have gone on, the nominees have been selected strategically to pass through the confirmation process, which has become more politicized. When confirming nominees, the Senate looks at the qualifications of the nominee, but also bends the rules if needed to better suit their agenda. Two cases of this, one in 1968 with the nomination of then- Associate Justice Abe Fortas to serve as Chief Justice, and the other occurring in 2016 when Merrick Garland was nominated to fill a vacancy left by the death of an Associate Justice. Both cases occurred in election years and were subject to the Senate’s political games in choosing to confirm each nominee. The Senate’s role in each case has led to calls for reform to the confirmation process, including to require hearings for each nominee, regardless of the circumstances.