Here’s a look at Supreme Court nominations.
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-three nominations have been submitted to the Senate (including nominations for chief justice). Of those, there have been 126 confirmations, with seven instances of individuals declining to serve.
The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary evaluates 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.
There is no requirement that the chief justice of the Supreme Court previously serve as an associate justice, but five of the 17 chief justices have. Three justices served on the 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 president to complete a full term of office and never have the opportunity to nominate a Supreme Court justice.
1952 – Presidents begin consulting the American Bar Association before making Supreme Court nominations.
1950s – President Dwight D. 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.
October 11, 1991 – Anita Hill testifies on Capitol Hill, accusing Thomas of sexual harassment in the workplace. Thomas denies the allegations.
October 15, 1991 – Thomas wins Senate confirmation by the narrowest margin in the 20th century, 52-48.
September 29, 2005 – Roberts is confirmed by the Senate (78-22).
October 27, 2005 – Miers withdraws her nomination.
October 31, 2005 – Bush nominates Samuel Alito.
January 31, 2006 – Alito is confirmed by the Senate (58-42). He is sworn in by Roberts.
August 8, 2009 – Sotomayor is sworn in as the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court.
August 7, 2010 – Kagan is sworn in.
April 7, 2017 – The Senate confirms Gorsuch (54-45).
April 10, 2017 – Gorsuch is sworn in.
July 10, 2018 – Trump nominates Brett Kavanaugh to fill the seat of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is retiring.
October 6, 2018 – Kavanaugh wins Senate confirmation by the narrowest margin in 137 years, in a 50-48 vote. In 1881, Stanley Matthews was confirmed by the Senate in a 24-23 vote. The ceremonial swearing-in event takes place at the White House on October 8.