Friday, July 6, 2018

President’s Selection of a Nominee for a Supreme Court Vacancy: Overview

"On June 27, 2018, Justice Anthony Kennedy, after serving on the Supreme Court as an Associate Justice since 1988, announced his intention to retire from the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Kennedy indicated that his retirement would be effective July 31, 2018. This Insight provides an overview of several issues related to the selection of a nominee by a President for a vacancy on the Court. For additional information and analyses on these and other issues, see CRS Report R44235, Supreme Court Appointment Process: President’s Selection of a Nominee.

The Role of Senate Advice
When a vacancy occurs on the Supreme Court, it becomes the President’s constitutional responsibility to select a successor to the vacating Justice, as well as the constitutional responsibility of the Senate to exercise its role in providing “advice and consent” to the President. Constitutional scholars have differed in how much importance the Framers of the Constitution attached to the word “advice” in the phrase “advice and consent.” Historically, the degree to which Senate advice has been sought or used has varied, depending on the President.

It is a common, though not universal, practice for Presidents, as a matter of courtesy, to consult with Senate party leaders as well as with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee before choosing a nominee. Presidents have also traditionally consulted with a candidate’s home state Senators, especially if they are of the same political party as the President.

Criteria for Selecting a Nominee
While the precise criteria used in selecting a Supreme Court nominee vary from President to President, two general motivations appear to underlie the choices of almost every President. One is the desire to have the nomination serve the President’s political interests (in the partisan and electoral senses of the word “political,” as well as in the public policy sense); the second is to demonstrate that a search was successfully made for a nominee having the highest professional qualifications. Other criteria might include a nominee’s reputation for integrity and impartiality, demographic considerations, and the personal qualities of the nominee...".
Supreme Court nomination

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