Time before next presidential election

Vacancy

announced

Nomination

Confirmed

vote

Party of president

Party of Senate majority

4 years

before

election

Election

Day

3 years

2 years

1 year

Next nominee

Ginsburg's death comes

46 days before the election

Brett M. Kavanaugh

Neil M. Gorsuch

Merrick B. Garland

Scalia’s seat became

vacant 269 days

before the election

Elena Kagan

Sonia Sotomayor

Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Harriet Miers

withdrew

John G. Roberts Jr.

Stephen G. Breyer

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Clarence Thomas

David H. Souter

Anthony M. Kennedy

Robert H. Bork

failed

confirmation

vote

Antonin Scalia

William H. Rehnquist *

Sandra Day O'Connor

John Paul Stevens

Time before next presidential election

Vacancy announced

Nomination

Confirmed vote

Party of president

Party of Senate majority

4 years

before

election

Election

Day

3 years

2 years

1 year

Next nominee

Ginsburg's death comes

46 days before the election

Brett M. Kavanaugh

Neil M. Gorsuch

The GOP-controlled Senate blocked Garland in

2016 and Gorsuch became the nominee.

Merrick B. Garland

Scalia’s seat became

vacant 269 days

before the election

Elena Kagan

Sonia Sotomayor

Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Harriet Miers

withdrew

John G. Roberts Jr.

Stephen G. Breyer

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Clarence Thomas

David H. Souter

Anthony M. Kennedy

Robert H. Bork

failed

confirmation

vote

Antonin Scalia

William H. Rehnquist *

Sandra Day O'Connor

John Paul Stevens

Time before next presidential election

Vacancy announced

Nomination

Confirmed vote

Party of

nominating

president

Election

Day

4 years

before election

3 years

2 years

1 year

Ginsburg's death comes

46 days before the election

Next nominee

Party of Senate majority

Brett M. Kavanaugh

The GOP-controlled Senate blocked Garland in

2016 and Gorsuch became the nominee.

Neil M. Gorsuch

Merrick B. Garland

Scalia’s seat became

vacant 269 days

before the election

Elena Kagan

Sonia Sotomayor

Samuel A. Alito Jr.

withdrew

Harriet Miers

John G. Roberts Jr.

Stephen G. Breyer

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Clarence Thomas

David H. Souter

Anthony M. Kennedy

Robert H. Bork

failed

confirmation

vote

Antonin Scalia

William H. Rehnquist *

Sandra Day O'Connor

John Paul Stevens

Time before next presidential election

Vacancy announced

Nomination

Confirmed vote

Party of nominating

president

Election

Day

4 years

before election

3 years

2 years

1 year

Ginsburg's death comes

46 days before the election

Next nominee

Party of Senate majority

Brett M. Kavanaugh (2018)

The GOP-controlled Senate blocked Garland in

2016 and Gorsuch became the nominee.

Neil M. Gorsuch (2017)

Merrick B. Garland (2016)

Scalia’s seat became

vacant 269 days

before the election

Elena Kagan (2010)

Sonia Sotomayor (2009)

Samuel A. Alito Jr. (2005)

Harriet Miers (2005)

withdrew

John G. Roberts Jr. (2005)

Stephen G. Breyer (1994)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1993)

Clarence Thomas (1991)

David H. Souter (1990)

Anthony M. Kennedy (1987)

failed

confirmation

vote

Robert H. Bork (1987)

Antonin Scalia (1986)

William H. Rehnquist (1986) *

Sandra Day O'Connor (1981)

John Paul Stevens (1975)

Time before next presidential election

Vacancy announced

Nomination

Confirmed vote

4 years

before election

Election

Day

Party of nominating president

3 years

2 years

1 year

Ginsburg's death comes

46 days before the election

Next nominee

Party of Senate majority

Brett M. Kavanaugh (2018)

The GOP-controlled Senate blocked Garland in

2016 and Gorsuch became the nominee.

Neil M. Gorsuch (2017)

Merrick B. Garland (2016)

Scalia’s seat became

vacant 269 days

before the election

Elena Kagan (2010)

Sonia Sotomayor (2009)

Samuel A. Alito Jr. (2005)

Harriet Miers (2005)

withdrew

John G. Roberts Jr. (2005)

Stephen G. Breyer (1994)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1993)

Clarence Thomas (1991)

David H. Souter (1990)

Anthony M. Kennedy (1987)

failed

confirmation

vote

Robert H. Bork (1987)

Antonin Scalia (1986)

William H. Rehnquist (1986) *

Sandra Day O'Connor (1981)

John Paul Stevens (1975)

Justice Renquist began serving on the court in 1972 and was nominated for chief justice in 1986.

The next-closest vacancy in recent history was in 2016, when Justice Antonin Scalia died 269 days before the presidential election. Then, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refused to advance Merrick Garland’s confirmation proceedings because, he said, voters should make the decision via the presidential election. Now, however, he vows to fill any Supreme Court vacancy that occurs during President Trump’s time in office. The rush to move forward comes despite Ginsburg’s wish, which NPR reported Friday: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

If the nomination vote happens, and Trump’s nominee is appointed, it would be the first time since 1988 that a president’s pick is confirmed in a presidential election year, although the vote for Anthony M. Kennedy happened more than 10 months before the election.

Since 1975, it has taken about 68 days for a nominee to be confirmed in a vote on the Senate floor. In 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland, whom the Republican Senate refused to vote on.

Days

between

vacancy

and new

Congress

Days between

Ginsburg vacancy

and election

Avg.

days to

confirm*

Confirmed

nominees

since 1975

46

68

107

88

Brett M. Kavanaugh

65

Neil M. Gorsuch

87

Elena Kagan

66

Sonia Sotomayor

82

Samuel A. Alito Jr.

62

John G. Roberts Jr.

73

Stephen G. Breyer

42

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

99

Clarence Thomas

69

David Souter

65

Anthony M. Kennedy

89

William H. Rehnquist

85

Antonin Scalia

33

Sandra Day O'Connor

19

John Paul Stevens

Days

between

vacancy

and new

Congress

Days between

Ginsburg vacancy

and election

Average

days to

confirm*

Confirmed

nominees

since 1975

46

68

107

88

Brett M. Kavanaugh

65

Neil M. Gorsuch

87

Elena Kagan

66

Sonia Sotomayor

82

Samuel A. Alito Jr.

62

John G. Roberts Jr.

73

Stephen G. Breyer

42

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

99

Clarence Thomas

69

David Souter

65

Anthony M. Kennedy

89

William H. Rehnquist

85

Antonin Scalia

33

Sandra Day O'Connor

19

John Paul Stevens

Days between

Ginsburg vacancy

and election

Days between

vacancy and

new Congress

Average days

to confirm*

Confirmed nominees

since 1975

46

68

107

88

Brett M. Kavanaugh

65

Neil M. Gorsuch

87

Elena Kagan

66

Sonia Sotomayor

82

Samuel A. Alito Jr.

62

John G. Roberts Jr.

73

Stephen G. Breyer

42

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

99

Clarence Thomas

69

David Souter

65

Anthony M. Kennedy

89

William H. Rehnquist

85

Antonin Scalia

33

Sandra Day O'Connor

19

John Paul Stevens

The president’s nominee must face committee scrutiny, background checks, testimony and Senate debate. Senators extended the confirmation process for Trump’s most recent nominee, Brett M. Kavanaugh, to investigate allegations of sexual assault.

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

12

D

10

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 the full Senate recommending that it be rejected.

Full Senate

47*

53

*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

Republicans voted in 2017 to end the 60-vote threshold to force a vote on Supreme Court nominees.

FINAL VOTE

Simple 51-vote

majority required.

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

12

D

10

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 the full Senate recommending that it be rejected.

Full Senate

47*

53

*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

Republicans voted in 2017 to end the 60-vote threshold to force a vote on Supreme Court nominees.

FINAL VOTE

Simple 51-vote

majority required.

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

VETTING

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

R

12

D

10

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.

47*

53

Filibuster

*Includes two independents who

caucus with the Democrats.

Republicans voted in 2017 to end the 60-vote threshold to force a vote on Supreme Court nominees.

FINAL VOTE

Simple 51-vote

majority required.

NOMINATION

CONFIRMED

NOMINATION

FAILS

Both of Trump’s picks were confirmed after Republicans voted to remove the filibuster, eliminating a procedural hurdle that required 60 votes to advance. That move will also make it much easier to secure confirmation for the next justice.

About this report

Data from the Congressional Research Service, Supreme Court, Senate and Green Papers.