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How are US Supreme Court justices appointed?

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2012-01-24 19:45:16
2012-01-24 19:45:16

The President nominates new members to the Supreme Court, but the Senate must approve the nomination by a majority vote. This is part of the system of checks and balances that is supposed to prevent abuse of power.

Explanation

When there is a vacancy on the bench the President (Executive branch) nominates a person to be a Supreme Court justice. Usually, the President receives recommendations from trusted advisors, or may have someone in mind whom an earlier President appointed to a US Court of Appeals Circuit Court to gain judicial experience.

The FBI investigates the nominee's background and returns a report to the Department of Justice, which compiles a report for the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Committee considers the candidate's judicial and personal record to determine suitability for office, then holds a hearing to question him or her about judicial record, political philosophy, ideology, and anything else they find appropriate. The Committee discusses the findings and may follow-up with addition written questions.

When the Committee is satisfied they have enough information to make a recommendation, they vote to decide whether to send the vote to the floor with a recommendation that the full Senate vote for or against commissioning the nominee. Occasionally, if the Committee is split in its opinion, they may send the vote to the floor with no recommendation.

The full Senate may hold its own hearing, which generally lasts less than a week, where they may also question the candidate before voting. If the nominee receives a simple majority of 51 votes, he or she officially becomes a Supreme Court Justice.

If the Senate rejects the nominee, the President will pick another nominee or may nominate the same person for additional review. This authority comes from Article II, Section 2 of the US Constitution, which states that the President has the power to nominate, and by and with the consent of the Senate, appoint Judges of the Supreme Court. Thus the President nominates but does not appoint Justices of of the Supreme Court. Actual appointment occurs only after Senate confirmation.

For more information, see Related Questions, below.

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supreme court justices are appointed by the president' state judges are either elected or appointed by the governor

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