Here’s a look at Supreme Court nominations.
Under Article II of the Constitution, the President nominates justices to the Supreme Court, with the “advice and consent of the Senate.”
If a vacancy occurs when Congress is not in session, a recess appointment allows an appointee to serve without Senate approval until Congress reconvenes.
One hundred and sixty-two nominations have been submitted to the Senate (including nominations for chief justice). Of those, there have been 125 confirmations, with seven instances of individuals declining to serve.
The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary evaluates all nominees to the Supreme Court for the Justice Department and the Senate Judiciary Committee. The organization has three possible rankings: qualified, well-qualified, and not qualified.
Twelve men have been appointed chief justice of the United States without having previously served as an associate justice: John Jay, Oliver Ellsworth, John Marshall, Roger B. Taney (nominated as associate justice but never confirmed, so re-nominated as chief justice), Salmon P. Chase, Morrison R. Waite, Melville W. Fuller, William Howard Taft, Fred M. Vinson, Earl Warren, Warren E. Burger and John Roberts.
Three justices served on the Supreme Court immediately before being elevated to chief justice: Edward D. White, Harlan Fiske Stone and William Rehnquist. Two justices had a break between their service as associate justice and being appointed chief justice: Charles Evans Hughes and John Rutledge.
Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed nine justices during his 12-year presidency, the most since George Washington. Jimmy Carter is the only US president to complete a full term of office and never have the opportunity to nominate a justice.
1952 – Presidents begin consulting the American Bar Association before making Supreme Court nominations.
1950s – President Dwight Eisenhower makes recess appointments of Earl Warren, Potter Stewart and William J. Brennan. All three are later confirmed by the Senate.
1955 – Nominees begin appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee for confirmation hearings.
1981 – Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings are televised for the first time.
1987 – Nominee Robert Bork is rejected by the Senate. Anthony Kennedy takes the seat.
1991 – Justice Clarence Thomas wins Senate confirmation by the narrowest margin in the 20th century, 52-48.
1990s – President Bill Clinton is the first Democratic president since 1967 to fill a Supreme Court vacancy. He appoints two: Justice Stephen Breyer and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
March 22, 2001 – The Bush Administration announces it will not consult with the ABA before judicial candidates are formally nominated. The administration says it is concerned about the ABA’s semi-official role in the process.
October 3, 2005 – John Roberts is sworn in as chief justice of the United States, replacing William Rehnquist, who died on September 3.
October 27, 2005 – Harriet Miers withdraws her Supreme Court nomination.
January 31, 2006 – Samuel Alito is confirmed by the Senate (58-42) as an associate justice, replacing Sandra Day O’Connor. He is immediately sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts.
August 6, 2009 – Sonia Sotomayor is confirmed by the Senate in a 68-31 vote, as the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court. Sotomayor replaces Justice David Souter who is retiring.
August 8, 2009 – Sonia Sotomayor is sworn in as the 111th Supreme Court Justice.
May 10, 2010 – President Barack Obama nominates Solicitor General Elena Kagan to fill the seat of retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.
August 5, 2010 – Elena Kagan is confirmed by the US Senate (68-31) as an associate justice.
August 7, 2010 – Kagan is sworn in as the 112th Supreme Court Justice.
March 16, 2016 – President Barack Obama nominates Judge Merrick Garland to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. No hearings are held.
January 31, 2017 – President Donald Trump nominates Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
April 7, 2017 – The US Senate confirms Gorsuch (54-45) as an associate justice.
April 10, 2017 – Neil Gorsuch is sworn in as the 113th Supreme Court Justice.