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Political Education

What is the average length of time since 1900 for a Supreme Court Nominee to be Approved?

judgement scale and gavel in judge office

Every US Presidential Administration wants to leave a lasting impact on the body of politics. The most efficient way is to confirm new Justices to the Supreme Court. At any given time, only nine individuals have served as Justices on the Supreme Court, since 1869 when that president was set by Congress. New Justices are brought on when a previous Justice retires or passes away. Since 1900 how long has it taken from nomination day for a Justice to either be approved or denied a seat on the bench?

1900 would place us in the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, who nominated Oliver Holmes on December 2, 1902, and was approved December 4, 1902. The last Justice, when knowing the length of time between nomination and confirmation, at the time I am writing this article, was under the presidency of Donald Trump, who nominated Amy Coney Barret on September 29, 2020, and was confirmed October 26, 2020.

A pure average of the 68 nominations, including votes to ascend someone from Associate Justice to Chief Justice, is 37.5 days. But that doesn’t give a picture of the modern voting process. From nomination to confirmation during Theodore Roosevelt’s administration averaged five days. The longest average time from nomination to confirmation was during the Presidancy of George HW Bush at 85 days. Over the last 5 presidencies the average time from nomination to confirmation or denial was 60.9 days. It would not be surprising if the next judicial nomination takes two months or more from start to finish to be confirmed or denyed.

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