• GM52246

    This is a good overview. I have two minor quibbles: the first is that it only requires a simple majority to confirm a Supreme Court justice (Clarence Thomas was confirmed 52-48). And it has only ever been the requirement. It requires 60 votes to override a *filibuster,* but given that even the controversial Thomas’ nomination was not filibustered, it would be an extraordinary step*. It’s important to be precise, because there may be Senators not willing to vote for an Obama nominee who would nonetheless feel pressure to end a filibuster.

    The second is that there’s been no agreed-upon ‘expansion’ of the six-month Thurmond rule; that’s one of the issues being debated. The GOP is attempting to expand the Thurmond rule to a full year; Democrats disagree. (Worth noting that the final confirmation vote on Antonin Scalia himself happened on Sept. 26, 1986, just five weeks before a national election.)

    *The only Supreme Court nomination to be filibustered in recent history was LBJ’s nomination of Abe Fortas to be Chief Justice in 1968, and Fortas was already on the court as an Associate Justice.

  • The commenter makes good points. First, as to the “Thurmond rule”: then-Senator and now-Vice President Joe Biden was among those arguing for the expansion of the rule in 1992. As with so many of the Senate’s procedural practices, both parties argue what is perceived to be in their interest at any given time.

    Yes, a justice may be confirmed with only 51 votes. However, in the post-Bork, post-“nuclear option” times in which the Senate operates today, the potential for a filibuster by either party is increased.

    As of this writing, the GOP majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee remain committed to not holding hearings on *any* Supreme Court nominee during 2016. As long as this remains true, no nominee with be considered by the full Senate.

    There is discussion of embarrassing the GOP into considering a nominee both revered/qualified and moderate/conservative in judicial philosophy, but a nominee likely to sway the GOP majority would likely be unpalatable to the President and the Democratic minority in the Senate.