Amy Coney Barrett, a Catholic, law professor and Court of Appeals judge, is President Donald Trump’s pick for his third Supreme Court nomination.
WASHINGTON – Now that President Donald Trump has named Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court, the issue in Washington becomes whether the Republican-majority Senate can confirm her before Election Day.
But if Senate Republicans want to confirm the appeals court judge before Nov. 3, as they have they indicated, they would have to hold a far quicker confirmation process than any in recent history.
There are just 38 days between Saturday and Election Day, and 116 days between Saturday and Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, 2021. The process for confirming a Supreme Court nominee takes on average about 70 days from the submission of the nomination to the final vote for justices confirmed from 1975 to the present, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.
Several Senate Republicans have said they want to confirm the justice before Election Day, rather than during the “lame-duck” session of Congress between Election Day and Inauguration Day.
Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., told reporters earlier this week he and other Republican senators believed “there were too many variables post-election that would make it complicated” to confirm a justice in the lame-duck period.
Democrats say there is too little time to confirm a new justice before Election Day and want the Senate to wait until after the election in the hope Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wins the presidency and Democrats win the Senate. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the process “nothing more than an exercise in brute force” in a Thursday speech.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Monday “history and precedent” demonstrated the Senate had enough time to confirm a nomination. He cited the shorter confirmation processes of other Supreme Court justices to justify his push to confirm Trump’s nominee quickly.
The confirmation process for Justice John Paul Stevens in 1975, which took 19 days, “could have played out twice” before Election Day, and Ginsburg, “could have been confirmed twice” between Monday and the end of 2020, McConnell said.
Ginsburg was confirmed in 50 days from the announcement of her nomination to the Senate’s final vote, though there were 42 days between the formal submission of her nomination and her confirmation by the Senate.
On average, the first hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee for a Supreme Court nominee comes 43 days after the president submits their nomination to the Senate, according to the Congressional Research Service’s analysis of nominees since 1975.
Here’s how long it took from the time of the nomination announcement to confirmation for the current judges on the Supreme Court:
- Kavanaugh: 89 days
- Gorsuch: 66 days
- Kagan: 87 days
- Sotomayor: 72 days
- Alito: 92 days
- Roberts: 72 days
- Breyer: 77 days
- Thomas: 106 days
After the Senate receives the nomination, Barrett will be subject to an FBI background check and meet on-one-on with members of the Senate. She will then be vetted by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is likely to hold a week’s worth of hearings with Barrett mid-October.
The Republican-controlled panel, which is split 12-10 between Republicans and Democrats, requires just a simple majority of members to vote to advance the nominee to the full Senate.
Democrats likely do not have the votes to block or delay the nomination process given the 53-47 split in the Senate between Republicans and Democrats. A nominee needs only a majority in the 100-member Senate to be confirmed, and only two Republican senators have said they oppose moving forward on the nomination before Election Day.
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