Who Obama will nominate

Merrick B. Garland

Chief judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Merrick B. Garland, 63, is a moderate who was considered by President Obama for a previous Supreme Court vacancy. He grew up in Chicago and graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He served as law clerk to Judge Henry Friendly of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and to U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan. Garland was also a partner of the law firm of Arnold & Porter.

A longtime Justice Department official, Garland served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia from 1989 to 1992 and Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. From 1994 to 1997, he served as Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General, supervising major cases, such as the prosecutions of Oklahoma City bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.

Garland was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in April 1997 and became chief judge in February 2013.

Going from nominee to confirmed

From start to finish, the president’s nominee must run a gantlet of committee scrutiny, background checks, testimony and Senate debate.

President

NOMINATION

The president chooses a candidate who is well-qualified as well as someone who generally serves his political interests.

Senate Judiciary

Committee

COMMITTEE BREAKDOWN

R

11

D

9

VETTING

The committee checks the nominee’s credentials and background, including finances and past legal decisions.

FIRST HEARING

The committee questions the nominee’s qualifications. The nominee is given a chance to respond.

COMMITTEE VOTE

Even if a majority of the committee opposes the nominee, tradition calls for the panel to send the nomination to full Senate recommending it be rejected.

 

Full Senate

46*

54

*Includes two independents who

caucus with the Democrats.

DEBATE ON SENATE FLOOR

Led by the chair of the Judiciary Committee, the Senate debates the nomination.

FILIBUSTER

A senator may stall the debate by refusing to yield the floor.

No

filibuster

VOTE FOR CLOTURE

It takes 60 votes to stop a filibuster. This supermajority would mean that Democrats would need the help of 14 Republicans.

60 votes

for cloture

FINAL VOTE

Simple 51-vote

majority required.

Final majority

vote fails

Vote

succeeds

NOMINATION

FAILS

NOMINATION

CONFIRMED

President

NOMINATION

The president chooses a candidate who is well-qualified as well as someone who generally serves his political interests.

Senate Judiciary Committee

COMMITTEE BREAKDOWN

R

11

VETTING

The committee checks the nominee’s credentials and background, including finances and past legal decisions.

D

9

FIRST HEARING

The committee questions the nominee’s qualifications. The nominee is given a chance to respond.

BACK TO THE START

A nominee may withdraw from consideration at any time, as Harriet Miers did in 2005.

COMMITTEE VOTE

Even if a majority of the committee opposes the nominee, tradition calls for the panel to send the nomination to the full Senate with the recommendation that it be rejected.

 

Full Senate

DEBATE ON SENATE FLOOR

Led by the chair of the Judiciary Committee, the Senate debates the nomination.

46*

54

*Includes two independents who

caucus with the Democrats.

FILIBUSTER

A senator may stall the debate by refusing to yield the floor.

Filibuster

No

filibuster

FINAL VOTE

Simple 51-vote

majority required.

VOTE FOR CLOTURE

It takes 60 votes to stop a filibuster. This supermajority would mean that Democrats would need the help of 14 Republicans.

60 votes for cloture

Final majority vote fails

Vote

succeeds

NOMINATION

FAILS

NOMINATION

CONFIRMED

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee

These 20 senators will be responsible for deciding whether President Obama’s nomination goes to the floor for debate in the Senate.

COMMITTEE CHAIR

RANKING MEMBER

Charles E.

Grassley

Patrick J.

Leahy

(R-Iowa)

(D-Vt.)

REPUBLICAN

Majority members

Orrin G.

Hatch

Jeff

Sessions

Lindsey O.

Graham

(R-Utah)

(R-S.C.)

(R-Ala.)

John

Cornyn

Mike

Lee

Ted

Cruz

(R-Tex.)

(R-Utah)

(R-Tex.)

Jeff

Flake

David

Vitter

David

Perdue

(R-Ariz.)

(R-La.)

(R-Ga.)

Thom

Tillis

(R-N.C.)

DEMOCRAT

Minority members

Dianne

Feinstein

Charles E.

Schumer

Richard J.

Durbin

(D-N.Y.)

(D-Ill.)

(D-Calif.)

Amy

Klobuchar

Sheldon

Whitehouse

Al

Franken

(D-R.I.)

(D-Minn.)

(D-Minn.)

Christopher

A. Coons

Richard

Blumenthal

(D-Conn.)

(D-Del.)

COMMITTEE CHAIR

RANKING MEMBER

Charles E.

Grassley

Patrick J.

Leahy

(R-Iowa)

(D-Vt.)

REPUBLICAN

Majority members

Orrin G.

Hatch

Jeff

Sessions

Lindsey O.

Graham

John

Cornyn

Mike

Lee

(R-Utah)

(R-S.C.)

(R-Tex.)

(R-Utah)

(R-Ala.)

Thom

Tillis

Ted

Cruz

Jeff

Flake

David

Vitter

David

Perdue

(R-Tex.)

(R-Ariz.)

(R-La.)

(R-Ga.)

(R-N.C.)

DEMOCRAT

Minority members

Dianne

Feinstein

Amy

Klobuchar

Charles E.

Schumer

Richard J.

Durbin

Sheldon

Whitehouse

(D-Ill.)

(D-R.I.)

(D-Minn.)

(D-Calif.)

(D-N.Y.)

Al

Franken

Christopher

A. Coons

Richard

Blumenthal

(D-Minn.)

(D-Conn.)

(D-Del.)

COMMITTEE CHAIR

RANKING MEMBER

Charles E.

Grassley

Patrick J.

Leahy

(R-Iowa)

(D-Vt.)

REPUBLICAN

Majority members

Orrin G.

Hatch

Jeff

Sessions

Lindsey O.

Graham

John

Cornyn

Mike

Lee

Jeff

Flake

David

Vitter

David

Perdue

Thom

Tillis

Ted

Cruz

(R-Utah)

(R-Ala.)

(R-S.C.)

(R-Tex.)

(R-Utah)

(R-Tex.)

(R-Ariz.)

(R-La.)

(R-Ga.)

(R-N.C.)

DEMOCRAT

Minority members

Dianne

Feinstein

Charles E.

Schumer

Richard J.

Durbin

Sheldon

Whitehouse

Amy

Klobuchar

Al

Franken

Christopher

A. Coons

Richard

Blumenthal

(D-Calif.)

(D-N.Y.)

(D-Ill.)

(D-R.I.)

(D-Minn.)

(D-Minn.)

(D-Del.)

(D-Conn.)

Scalia was longest-serving of nine sitting justices

Antonin Scalia, nominated to the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan and confirmed by the Senate unanimously in 1986, served for nearly 30 years.

Nominated by:

REAGAN

OBAMA

BUSH

CLINTON

BUSH

1986

’90

’00

’10

2016

Antonin Scalia

Anthony M. Kennedy

Clarence Thomas

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Stephen G. Breyer

John G. Roberts Jr.

Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Sonia Sotomayor

Elena Kagan

Nominated by:

REAGAN

OBAMA

BUSH

CLINTON

BUSH

1986

’90

’00

’10

2016

Antonin Scalia

Anthony M. Kennedy

Clarence Thomas

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Stephen G. Breyer

John G. Roberts Jr.

Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Sonia Sotomayor

Elena Kagan

Time spent considering Supreme Court nominees

In the past 115 years, the average time for Senate confirmation/rejection has been 37 days, but the process has required an average of 60 days since the Nixon administration.

Days between nomination and...

Confirmation

Rejection or withdrawal

PRESIDENT

NOMINEE

0

20

60

100

Barack Obama

Elena Kagan

87

Sonia Sotomayor

66

George W. Bush

Samuel A. Alito Jr.

82

Harriet Miers

21

John G. Roberts Jr.

 

62

(Nominated to replace O'Connor and then to

succeed Rehnquist.)

Bill Clinton

Stephen G. Breyer

73

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

50

George H.W. Bush

Clarence Thomas

99

David Souter

69

Ronald Reagan

Anthony M. Kennedy

65

Robert H. Bork

114

Antonin Scalia

85

William H. Rehnquist

(Chief justice nomination)

89

Sandra Day O’Connor

33

Gerald Ford

John Paul Stevens

19

Richard Nixon

William H. Rehnquist

49

45

Lewis F. Powell Jr.

Harry A. Blackmun

27

79

G. Harrold Carswell

Clement Haynsworth Jr.

92

Warren E. Burger

17

Lyndon Johnson

100

Homer Thornberry

Abe Fortas

(Chief justice nomination)

100

Thurgood Marshall

78

14

Abe Fortas

John Kennedy

25

Arthur Goldberg

8

Byron White

Dwight Eisenhower

108

Potter Stewart

17

Charles E. Whittaker

64

William J. Brennan Jr.

65

John Marshall Harlan

49

Earl Warren

Harry Truman

19

Sherman Minton

16

Tom C. Clark

14

Fred M. Vinson

0

Harold H. Burton

Franklin Roosevelt

Wiley Blount Rutledge

28

25

Robert H. Jackson

James F. Byrnes

0

15

Harlan Stone

12

Frank Murphy

William O. Douglas

15

12

Felix Frankfurter

Stanley Forman Reed

10

Hugo Black

5

Herbert Hoover

Benjamin N. Cardozo

9

Owen Roberts

11

John Parker

47

Charles Hughes

10

Calvin Coolidge

Harlan F. Stone

31

Warren Harding

Edward T. Sanford

5

Pierce Butler

16

George Sutherland

0

William Howard Taft

0

Woodrow Wilson

10

John H. Clarke

125

Louis Brandeis

10

James C. McReynolds

William Taft

23

Mahlon Pitney

Joseph R. Lamar

3

3

Willis Van Devanter

Edward White

0

7

Charles Evans Hughes

Horace H. Lurton

7

Theodore Roosevelt

William Henry Moody

9

William R. Day

4

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

2

Confirmation

Rejection or withdrawal

Days between nomination and...

0

20

40

60

80

100

120

PRESIDENT

NOMINEE

Barack Obama

Elena Kagan

87

Sonia Sotomayor

66

Samuel A. Alito Jr.

82

George W. Bush

21

Harriet Miers

*Nominated to replace O'Connor and then to succeed Rehnquist.

62

John G. Roberts Jr.*

Stephen G. Breyer

73

Bill Clinton

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

50

Clarence Thomas

99

George H.W. Bush

David Souter

69

Anthony M. Kennedy

65

Ronald Reagan

Robert H. Bork

114

Antonin Scalia

85

William H. Rehnquist

(nominated for chief justice)

89

Sandra Day O’Connor

33

John Paul Stevens

19

Gerald Ford

William H. Rehnquist

49

Richard Nixon

Lewis F. Powell Jr.

45

Harry A. Blackmun

27

G. Harrold Carswell

79

Clement Haynsworth Jr.

92

Warren E. Burger

17

Homer Thornberry

100

Lyndon Johnson

Abe Fortas

100

(nominated for chief justice)

Thurgood Marshall

78

Abe Fortas

14

Arthur Goldberg

25

John Kennedy

Byron White

8

Potter Stewart

108

Dwight Eisenhower

Charles E. Whittaker

17

William J. Brennan Jr.

64

John Marshall Harlan

65

Earl Warren

49

Harry Truman

Sherman Minton

19

Tom C. Clark

16

Fred M. Vinson

14

Harold H. Burton

0

Franklin

Roosevelt

Wiley Blount Rutledge

28

Robert H. Jackson

25

James F. Byrnes

0

Harlan Stone

15

Frank Murphy

12

William O. Douglas

15

Felix Frankfurter

12

Stanley Forman Reed

10

Hugo Black

5

Herbert Hoover

Benjamin N. Cardozo

9

Owen Roberts

11

John Parker

47

Charles Hughes

10

Calvin Coolidge

Harlan F. Stone

31

Warren Harding

Edward T. Sanford

5

Pierce Butler

16

George Sutherland

0

William Howard Taft

0

Woodrow Wilson

John H. Clarke

10

Louis Brandeis

125

James C. McReynolds

10

William Taft

Mahlon Pitney

23

Joseph R. Lamar

3

Willis Van Devanter

3

Edward White

0

Charles Evans Hughes

7

Horace H. Lurton

7

Theodore

Roosevelt

William Henry Moody

9

William R. Day

4

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

2