U.S. Supreme Court: Tracking the Confirmation Process

Seal of the Supreme Court of the United States

Last night, President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States. The next step in the process is sending the nomination to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But wait? Who is Brett Kavanaugh? From ScotusBlog:

“After graduating from Yale College in 1987 and Yale Law School in 1990, Kavanaugh spent two years as a law clerk, for Judge Walter Stapleton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit and Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. He followed a one-year fellowship in the office of U.S. Solicitor General Kenneth Starr with a clerkship for Justice Anthony Kennedy during October Term 1993.” [full profile here]

What happens before the hearing? From the CRS Report: Supreme Court Appointment Process, R44236, March 17, 2017:

The nominee fills out a detailed questionnaire and makes courtesy calls on individual Senators in their offices. The Judiciary Committee conducts a background investigation, and the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary evaluates the nominee as “well-qualified,” “qualified,” or “not-qualified.” During this time, public debate on the nominee is ongoing, members of the Judiciary Committee are preparing questions for the nominee, and the nominee is preparing to answer these questions.

What happens during the hearing? From Georgetown Law Library’s research guide:

“During the hearings, witnesses, both supporting and opposing the nomination, present their views. Senators question the nominee on his or her qualifications, judgment, and philosophy.” Then it is time for voting. First, the Judiciary Committee votes on a recommendation to the full Senate. The Senate debates and then votes. A majority vote confirms the nomination, with the Vice President casting the deciding vote in the event of a tie.

What happens after the hearing? From the ABA’s Nominations Process page:

If the nominee is confirmed, “the president issues a written commission to the nominee, who then must take two oaths of office – the Constitutional Oath and the Judicial Oath – before being sworn in and assuming official duties as a Supreme Court justice.”

If the nominee is not confirmed, the process begins again with another Presidential nomination.


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