How does the Supreme Court nomination process work?

Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings

WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson is testifying publicly this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee. If confirmed, as is expected, she would be the first Black woman to sit on the high court in its more than 200-year history.

But what’s the timeline of a Supreme Court confirmation and is Jackson’s out of the ordinary?

Historically, the average number of days from nomination to final Senate vote is around 70, according to the Congressional Research Service. The time from Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to confirmation, the latest addition to the court, however, was just 30 days.

Senate Judiciary chairman Dick Durbin set a goal of confirming Brown by Easter recess, which is April 8, so in about 40 days from now. With that goal in mind, Brown will likely go through the following steps in the next few weeks.

First, the president nominates a candidate to fill a high court vacancy. President Joe Biden nominated Jackson at the end of last month to fill retiring Judge Stephen Breyer’s seat.

The FBI will complete its own investigation and share its findings with the Judiciary Committee. The American Bar Association, a national nonpartisan lawyers’ group, will also evaluate the nominee and deliver a rating on whether she is qualified to sit on the high court.

Jackson received a unanimous “well qualified” rating from the ABA last week.

Brown is going through Judiciary Committee’s public hearings right now, with her third day of hearings set to kick off Wednesday morning.

The Senate committee’s public hearings, which are scheduled to last until Thursday, are a highly anticipated event for every Supreme Court nominee, during which the public gets to hear the candidate in their own words answer questions from senators.

Jackson will likely face the actual committee vote by the end of this week. Then the actual Senate debate will happen where the full Senate debates her qualifications. The Senate will then vote on the nominee’s confirmation. It will take 51 votes to confirm Jackson. If the vote is divided, Vice President Kamala Harris will vote to break the tie. If the nominee is rejected, the process must start all over again.

Democrats can confirm Jackson without any Republican support because Harris can cast a tiebreaking vote in the 50-50 Senate. Democrats are still lobbying Republicans they think are open to voting for Jackson in hopes that she will be able to be seated on the court with some bipartisan backing.

The path to Supreme Court confirmation can be a grueling one. (AP Graphic)

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