Selecting a Nominee
When a vacancy occurs on the Supreme Court, the president, with the advice and consent of the Senate, will appoint a new justice. The appointment process for selecting a new Supreme Court justice begins with a presidential nomination. While agencies such as the Department of Justice may offer recommendations on potential candidates, only the president has the authority to make an official nomination. Once the president announces his choice, the Senate initiates confirmation proceedings.
Senate Confirmation Hearings
The Senate confirmation hearings begin in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which conducts a thorough background check and examines the nominee’s published works, significant litigation matters, political affiliations and any potential conflicts of interest. The committee convenes a hearing where members discuss the nominee's qualifications and ask questions regarding his experience. The committee then votes on whether to send the nomination to the full Senate for consideration. If a nomination proceeds, the full Senate will debate the nominee’s qualifications and issues such as how he might interpret the U.S. Constitution when ruling on politically controversial issues such as immigration laws. Once debate concludes, the Senate votes on whether to confirm the nomination. If approved, it sends a confirmation resolution to the president. The nominee is sworn in by taking two oaths: an oath required by the Judicial Act of 1789 and a constitutional oath required under Article IV of the Constitution. These oaths are typically administered by the chief justice or highest-ranking associate justice.
- Supreme Court of the United States: Brief Overview
- Constitution of the United States: Article II, Section II
- Constitution of the United States: Article III, Section I
- The Congressional Research Service: Supreme Court Appointment Process - Roles of the President, Judiciary Committee, and Senate
- The Supreme Court of the United States: Oaths of Office Taken by the Current Court
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