Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

Planning the Senate Calendar


Here’s the timetable that the Senate adopted for action on Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s nomination in 1993:

Nomination June 22, 1993

Hearing July 20, 1993 (exactly four weeks from the date of nomination)

Confirmation (96-3) August 3, 1993 (exactly six weeks from the date of nomination)

In the event of a vacancy this summer, the Senate should confirm a Supreme Court nominee at least as rapidly. First, no conceivable nominee will have the record of extremism that nominee Ginsburg had, but will instead surely display a much more sound understanding of the role of judging in a constitutional republic. Second, Ginsburg was altering the previous balance of the Court by replacing Justice Byron White, an opponent of much of the Court’s liberal activism (including Roe). No matter which Justice were to step down, no nomination this summer would have a greater effect on the previous balance of the Court than Ginsburg’s did — and, of course, in several scenarios the likely effect would be minimal or nil. (I don’t think considerations of previous “balance” ought to play any role in the confirmation process, but, for those who do, that’s how they cut.)

And, of course, a rapid confirmation will enable Senate Democrats to get to all the other important work that they say they’re so eager to do (and that their judicial filibustering has been blocking).


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