Why Supreme Court Nominations Are Important

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Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley

Supreme Court Facts

Article II of the Constitution provides that the President “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for…”

If a vacancy occurs when Congress is not in session, a recess appointment allows an appointee to serve without the Senate’s approval until Congress reconvenes. Historically, 163 nominations, including nominations for chief justice, have been officially submitted to the Senate. 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, and ranks candidates as either qualified, well-qualified, or not qualified. Five of the 17 chief justices have previously served as an associate justice, but it is not required. 

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.

The Importance of Supreme Court Nominations

The U.S. Supreme Court is the highest in the country. Considering that Supreme Court justices serve for life and have significant power in interpreting laws that affect our daily lives, the importance of Court appointments cannot be overstated. It is the U.S. Supreme Court that ultimately decides what exactly the Constitution means.

The Supreme Court rules on cases that affect nearly all aspects of our daily lives. Most Americans attended or currently attend public school; we have watched legal shows where police make arrests and have evidence disallowed because certain constitutional rights have been violated; we likely have varied opinions regarding free speech; we’ve seen instances of discrimination on the TV news. Supreme Court decisions have significantly impacted all of these issues.

“Equal Justice Under the Law” is written above the Supreme Court Building’s main entrance and expresses the U.S. Supreme Court’s primary responsibility. The Court is the highest tribunal in the nation for all “cases and controversies” arising under the Constitution or the laws of the United States. 

The Court is charged with ensuring the American people the promise of equal justice under the law. As the law’s final judge, the Court also functions as the Constitution’s guardian and interpreter. It’s not inaccurate to say that the Supreme Court justices are among the most powerful people on the planet.

Supreme Court nominations are so important because, quite simply, the justices are so influential in shaping our daily lives.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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