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Supreme Court Appointment Process: Roles of the President, Judiciary Committee, and Senate

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Congressional rept.

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The appointment of a Supreme Court Justice is an event of major significance in American politics. Each appointment is important because of the enormous judicial power the Supreme Court exercises as the highest appellate court in the federal judiciary. Appointments are usually infrequent, as a vacancy on the 9-member Court may occur only once or twice, or never at all, during a particular Presidents years in office. Under the Constitution, Justices on the Supreme Court receive lifetime appointments. Such job security in the government has been conferred solely on judges and, by constitutional design, helps insure the Courts independence from the President and Congress. The procedure for appointing a Justice is provided for by the Constitution in only a few words. The Appointments Clause Article II, Section 2, clause 2 states that the President shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint...Judges of the supreme Court. The process of appointing Justices has undergone changes over two centuries, but its most basic feature -- the sharing of power between the President and Senate -- has remained unchanged To receive lifetime appointment to the Court, a candidate must first be nominated by the President and then confirmed by the Senate. Although not mentioned in the Constitution, an important role is played midway in the process by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The appointment of a Justice might or might not proceed smoothly. From the first appointments in 1789, the Senate has confirmed 122 out of 158 Court nominations. A recurring theme in the appointment process has been the assumed need for excellence in a nominee. However, politics also has played an important role in Supreme Court appointments. The political nature of the appointment process becomes especially apparent when a President submits a nominee with controversial views or there are sharp ideological differences between the President and the Senate.

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  • Government and Political Science

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