Supreme Court nominees who were not confirmed

Compiled by Tanya N. Ballard Staff Writer
Thursday, October 27, 2005; 12:04 PM

Since World War II, six Supreme Court nominations have been either withdrawn or rejected by the Senate.

Douglas Ginsburg -- 1987

In November 1987, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg was forced to withdraw as President Ronald Reagan's nominee for a vacant U.S. Supreme Court seat that had been earlier denied to Robert Bork. The reason: Ginsburg's admission that he had used marijuana in the 1960s and 1970s while a college student and Harvard Law School professor. Ginsburg's nomination was never voted on by the Senate. Anthony Kennedy, who eventually got the seat, was confirmed on Nov. 30, 1987 with a vote of 97-0. 

Robert Bork -- 1987

On July 1, 1987 President Ronald Reagan nominated U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Robert Bork, who served as solicitor general under President Richard Nixon, for the Supreme Court. Senate Democrats wary of his conservative philosophy and positions objected to his nomination. Bork's nomination was rejected by the Senate on Oct. 23, 1987 by a vote of 42-58.

G. Harrold Carswell -- 1970

President Richard Nixon nominated U.S. Court of Appeals Judge G. Harrold Carswell to the Supreme Court on Jan. 19, 1970 to replace Justice Abe Fortas. Carswell was criticized for the high reversal rate (58%) of his decisions that were later appealed, and by civil-rights advocates for his judicial record and for vocally supporting White supremacy in 1948 while running for office in Georgia. Carswell was rejected by the Senate on April 8, 1970 by a vote of 51-45. Harry Blackmun, confirmed on May 12, 1970, replaced Fortas who resigned in 1969.

Clement Haynsworth -- 1969

U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Clement Haynsworth was nominated to the Supreme Court on Aug. 21, 1969 by President Richard Nixon to replace Abe Fortas on the court. Haynsworth allegedly made court decisions favoring segregation and decisions on subjects where he had a financial interest. Haynsworth was defeated by a 55-45 vote on Nov. 21, 1969. Haynsworth was the first Supreme Court nominee since 1930 to be defeated by the Senate.

Abe Fortas -- 1968

President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated Associate Justice Abe Fortas to replace retiring Chief Justice Earl Warren. At the same time Johnson declared his intention to fill the vacancy created by Fortas' elevation with U.S. Appeals Court Judge Homer Thornberry. Though the Judiciary Committee recommended confirmation, floor consideration sparked the first filibuster in Senate history on a Supreme Court nomination. On Oct.1, 1968, the Senate failed to invoke cloture. Johnson then withdrew the nomination.

Homer Thornberry -- 1968

U.S. Appeals Court Judge Homer Thornberry was nominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson for Abe Fortas' seat on the Supreme Court when the president nominated Fortas to replace Earl Warren as Chief Justice. Once Fortas withdrew his nomination in October 1968, however, Thornberry's nomination became moot and was withdrawn by the White House without a vote.

For further reading:

  • Supreme Court Nominations, 1789-present (U.S. Senate)
  • Senate Judiciary Committee Supreme Court Nomination Hearings, 1971-present (Government Printing Office)
  • Supreme Court Nominations not confirmed by the Senate, 1968-present (Library of Congress)

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