How do US Supreme Court justices get appointed? – Peter Paccone
Articles,  Blog

How do US Supreme Court justices get appointed? – Peter Paccone


There’s a job out there with a great
deal of power, pay, prestige, and near-perfect job security. And there’s only one way to be hired: get appointed to the US Supreme Court. If you want to become
a justice on the Supreme Court, the highest federal court
in the United States, three things have to happen. You have to be nominated by
the president of the United States, your nomination needs to be
approved by the Senate, and finally, the president must
formally appoint you to the court. Because the Constitution doesn’t specify
any qualifications, in other words, that there’s no age,
education, profession, or even native-born
citizenship requirement, a president can nominate any individual
to serve. So far, six justices
have been foreign-born, at least one never graduated
from high school, and another was only 32 years old
when he joined the bench. Most presidents nominate individuals
who broadly share their ideological view, so a president with a liberal ideology will tend to appoint
liberals to the court. Of course, a justice’s leanings
are not always so predictable. For example, when President Eisenhower,
a Republican, nominated Earl Warren for Chief Justice, Eisenhower expected him
to make conservative decisions. Instead, Warren’s judgements have gone
down as some of the most liberal in the Court’s history. Eisenhower later remarked on that
appointment as “the biggest damned-fool mistake”
he ever made. Many other factors come up
for consideration, as well, including experience, personal loyalties,
ethnicity, and gender. The candidates are then thoroughly vetted down to their tax records
and payments to domestic help. Once the president interviews
the candidate and makes a formal nomination
announcement, the Senate leadership traditionally
turns the nomination over to hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Depending on the contentiousness
of the choice, that can stretch over many days. Since the Nixon administration,
these hearings have averaged 60 days. The nominee is interviewed
about their law record, if applicable, and where they stand on key issues
to discern how they might vote. And especially in more recent history, the committee tries to unearth
any dark secrets or past indiscretions. The Judiciary Committee votes to send
the nomination to the full Senate with a positive
or negative recommendation, often reflective of political leanings,
or no recommendation at all. Most rejections have happened
when the Senate majority has been a different political
party than the president. When the Senate does approve,
it’s by a simple majority vote, with ties broken by the vice president. With the Senate’s consent, the president issues
a written appointment, allowing the nominee to complete
the final steps to take the constitutional
and judicial oaths. In doing so, they solemnly swear to administer
justice without respect to persons and do equal right to the poor
and the rich and faithfully and impartially discharge
and perform all the duties incumbent upon a US Supreme Court justice. This job is for life, barring resignation, retirement,
or removal from the court by impeachment. And of the 112 justices who have held
the position, not one has yet been removed from
office as a result of an impeachment. One of their roles is to protect
the fundamental rights of all Americans, even as different parties take power. With the tremendous impact
of this responsibility, it’s no wonder that a US Supreme
Court justice is expected to be, in the words of Irving R. Kaufman, “a paragon of virtue, an intellectual Titan, and an administrative wizard.” Of course, not every member of the Court
turns out to be an exemplar of justice. Each leaves behind a legacy
of decisions and opinions to be debated and dissected
by the ultimate judges, time and history.

100 Comments

  • Alex Moss

    I thought one of the golden rules of good government was to keep the justice and legislature systems separate so governments can't be tyrannical.

  • honestdude

    Our entire government is a corrupt and broken system that needs to be revamped, I just hope it doesn't take the country falling apart or an uprising for it to happen.

  • Zukka 88

    Of course not every judge is an exemplar of justice. Each leaves behind a legacy of decisions to be debated and dissected by the ultimate judges: time and history.

    Look at the decision that was made in 2013 to strike down section 5 of the voting rights act (getting approval from the Justice department when making changes to voting rules). History can judge them all it wants, but that ruling will go down as one if the most consequential in history.

  • Ant_TonyLOL KID

    what if a country had two Prime Ministers or Presidents from the top two parties in a vote. and maybe if one party has a lot more voters, their PM could have slightly more say.

  • Thomas Smith

    So… I get how this video wants to give a general intro to the system, that's unbiased, and can be used for all ages. That's great. I also noticed the "average judicial review time of 60 days." So, why no mention of the unprecedented obstruction of this system by Republicans, who blocked Obama's latest appointment for almost a year. It seems to me, so long as Republicans feel this was justified, there's nothing biased about simply telling the truth of what happened. You can give the Republicans' logic for their decision, if you want. I don't see how avoiding these very pertinent facts is educational, and I was really hoping you'd go into detail about how Republicans were able to delay the system for so long, and also what the ramifications are for a limited supreme court – what can I do, when it doesn't have all its members? Theoretically, how long can congress block an appointment? What if Clinton had won? Some Republicans had threatened to block an appointment for another four years. Is that really possible? I'd like to hear a legal expert weigh in.

  • hi hi

    Dear Ted-ed, could you please bring back your series of "history vs. X" but this time of late President Marcos of the Philippines. It's a very relevant issue right now here and would like to know the thought of non-filipinos that view it from a non-subjective standpoint. Thanks!

  • B BTB

    All executive branch and judicial nominees — except to the Supreme Court — can be confirmed with a simple up-or-down vote rather than the previously required 60-vote supermajority.

  • Star Wasp

    I'm no US citizen nor an expert in politics, but a single individual of the executive branch unilaterally getting to decide who is even to be considered for the US Supreme Court seems degenerative for the seperation of powers.
    In a country that is dominated by a two-party-system nominee rejection by simple majority eventually leads to configurations in which one party dictates new justices.

    Considering how often the US Congress relies on taking the President to court in attempts to oppose his over the decades steadily increasing power, it's like a build-in mechanic to delegate power away from the legislative branch to the President.
    Basically giving him opportunities to create a biased judical for life-time.

  • Manas Madrecha

    Too much politics involved in this American system.

    Comparatively, Indian collegium system of appointing the Judges is far better. The Judges decide among themselves who will be promoted to the upper Judiciary (Supreme Court). After, finalization, the names are sent to the Executive, for the latter's opinions. And, despite Executive not wanting those names, the Judiciary can still confirm appointment of those names.

    Thus, notwithstanding the internal politics of judiciary, no political party can influence judges' appointment in Indian system.

  • Rise of The Tune Raider

    There is no US. Everyone is owned as they were Incorporated into the Roman System of a 14th Amendment Citizen of the District of Columbia. That means YOU. You are a Corporation-a Human Resource

  • Errir 404

    Ok I want this position

    like if you want a complete stranger from A foreign land raised In US and dedicated toward politics of this nation and of NAFTA to become your new Judge

  • Shakespeare

    He's such a stupid man. "Protect and defend the constitution" We left our constitution in the hands of a maniac for the last eight years.

  • tyskenfan

    What stupid system! If a person gets appointed for life, it doesn't matter if the person gets afflicted with age-related diseases like dementia, right?

    Also, why is it the president's job to appoint a candidate? A) Why would the president have a knowledge over what justice system is best for the county and B) isn't it kind of risky to let a single person nominate a person who's job is to judge everyone in the country independent of rank and power? Seems to me like a kind of corruption danger.

  • Hans Smirnov

    So… why did they smother Scalia?: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-02-15/justice-scalia-found-dead-pillow-over-his-head-no-autopsy-ordered

  • TJ Simmons

    I understand why they are appointed for life, but why not put a age limit on "life"
    Life in prison is what, 55ish years… should be same for judges.

  • Waldzwölf

    The system has no control over me, always made me boycott it and spit on it. People better fear the day they make me an enemy and I answer to no one, if it truly comes down to it. I do not bow down to state violence and fight it with violence if necessary. But rest assured: I have a high tolerance meter and lots of free space to handle myself with society.
    But this Judge-trash can go and eat shit. They are just Bitches and Maggots in Robes. And Traitors to the honest Citizens.

    This post is not for discussion: Only to show my utmost disrespect for corrupted shits.

  • FutureIndieProductions

    Did this video just say that ethnicity and gender is a consideration… And here I thought qualifications were most important…….

  • aspen ivy

    Do we vote? if so list three,nominees or,who Bill Clinton ton would approve of Media as terrorized " could be. but is not" We are constantly asked for money but the threat continued

  • Sam Piller

    I believe this is misjudgment of our founding fathers by appointing someone for life which goes against the core of our democratic system. Which results in the unfair behavior during the confirmation process because in politics this is a life and death issue.

  • Jon Schnell

    Of course it has to be Obama as the president in the lesson. We all know that he is a traitor and has been treasonous in his actions.

  • AllAtousa

    i am trying to understand this, if you have a republican in power for years and years, and they get questioned by the committee so see how they may vote, then pass on a recommendation (I have no idea how much weight this holds) then isn't there the risk that they are constantly pushing their owns views in such cases? Could someone kindly explain

  • Alexander Laryea

    i'm preparing myself for nomination to the u.s supreme court as a supreme court justice for life, but i'll need president donald .j. trumps' nomination and approval, president george walker bush jr's' approval and my wife to be 's support and affection( barbara pierce bush i love you)

  • Joseph Zao

    The Supreme Court of the USA is the clerk of the Satan since 1776 and you can prove it. The USA is 9 Fools voted against Jesus Christ every time. God Hates America and good reason. @TheJusticeDept All 1,220,000 Lawyers are sworn to Satan to be Lawyers in America. 3294 Judges in America Sworn to Satan to be a Judge In USA. There are 9 Supreme Court Judges that Vote against Jesus Christ. That is @CIA intelligence and space program. @NASA is graphic artists.

    ‪@senatemajldr @realDonaldTrump @SDSheriff Everybody has to lose something. I lost the United States of America; OK, but what has that got to do with my life? @OrangePoliceVA @USAA @NavyFederal @PenFed #ValHawkins #MarvinHawkins‬
    @BankofAmerica
    65 Mansfield Ave
    Darien, Connecticut my name is Joe Zao SSN 225-72-9058 The Supreme Court of the USA is the clerk of the Supreme Court since 1776 and you can prove it. The USA is 9 Fools voted against Jesus Christ every time. God Hates America and good reason. @TheJusticeDept All 1,220,000 Lawyers are sworn to Satan to be Lawyers in America. 3294 Judges in America Sworn to Satan to be a Judge In USA. There are 9 Supreme Court Judges that Vote against Jesus Christ. That is @CIA intelligence and space program. @NASA is graphic artists.

    ‪@senatemajldr @realDonaldTrump @SDSheriff Everybody has to lose something. I lost the United States of America; OK, but what has that got to do with my life? @OrangePoliceVA @USAA @NavyFederal @PenFed #ValHawkins #MarvinHawkins‬
    @BankofAmerica
    65 Mansfield Ave
    Darien, Connecticut these are my cousins from Lafayette College and Brown U and Wharton : my name is Joe Zao SSN 225-72-9058

  • Tajai Calip

    There should be another way to choose the judges. For centuries history has been proven that the people who pick these judges pick these judges for their personal services. judges should be chosen randomly without anyone knowing. I do not see how these people get offended when they are called illiterates. They see things that took place decades ago and do the same thing. No one receives change doing the EXACT same foul actions repeatedly. At the renee c. davidson court how can a judge say they are not defaming my character when I filed a restraining order on these people in my home. The judge did not grant the order knowing I was the only one on my order and fighting numerous people who came to my home illegally. But the same court judge at the renee c. davidson court gave a city attorney and other people restraining orders against me for collecting my evidence proving I'm innocent. That is not the court procedure or the description of a court judge. These people cannot be in a community and defame people names who never met or saw them before. Its time their addresses are posted. Its obvious until the da is removed from oakland we are going to have to fight these people.

  • oh sizzle

    Democrats and Republicans only care about beating the other party rather than being good at ruling the country

  • Asahel

    So if you can blackmail the president with good relationship with the senate and a good actor. you can get the job.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *