You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

AP Explains: Supreme Court confirmation an arduous process


The Senate has confirmed 124 Supreme Court justices since the United States was founded. Neil Gorsuch wants to be the newest member of the relatively small group of men and women who guide the nation's judicial branch.

The modern-day confirmation process is arduous, with dozens of one-on-one meetings with senators in recent weeks giving way to days of testimony starting Monday. Gorsuch and the Judiciary Committee's 20 members will give opening statements. Gorsuch will answer questions Tuesday and Wednesday, and other witnesses will testify Thursday.

A look at the confirmation process, its rules, terminology and politics:

___

WHAT DOES THE CONSTITUTION SAY

The Constitution lays out the process in just a few words, saying the president shall nominate Supreme Court justices "by and with the advice and consent of the Senate." Senate rules and tradition dictate the rest. President Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch, a judge on the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, on Jan. 31 and set the process in motion.

___

THE PREPARATION AND DAY ONE

Gorsuch has met with 72 of the 100 senators in advance of his hearings. Like other nominees, he has participated in mock questioning facilitated by the Trump administration. These are sometimes dubbed "murder boards" because of their intensity.

On Monday, Gorsuch will have to sit through 10-minute statements from each of the 20 members of the committee, which will take several hours. After that, Gorsuch will finally speak, delivering his own 10-minute opening statement.

___

THE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

In past hearings, the questions have centered around the nominee's legal qualifications, decisions as a judge, positions on political issues, interpretations of the Constitution, general legal philosophy and current legal controversies.

The stakes are high with any court pick, and especially now as confirmation of Gorsuch would ensure a conservative advantage on the court.

Gorsuch will face the same dilemma of many nominees before him — how to answer the questions clearly and concisely without weighing in on issues that could come before the court or get himself in political trouble.

Democrats are likely to push him if he is reluctant. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York has already criticized him for deflecting questions when he asked him during their meeting whether Trump's immigration ban is constitutional.

___

THE OTHER WITNESSES

The fourth and final day of the hearings, Thursday, will feature outside witnesses, usually former colleagues and advocacy groups who will testify for or against Gorsuch. In the past, one of the first to testify has been the chair of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary. That group has given Gorsuch a unanimous "well qualified" rating.

___

THE COMMITTEE VOTE

By tradition, the committee will report the nomination to the Senate floor even if the majority of the panel opposes the nominee, so the full Senate can have the ultimate say. So instead of approving or rejecting the nominee, the committee will usually report the nomination favorably, unfavorably or without recommendation.

Of the 15 most recent nominations, 13 were reported favorably. Robert Bork, whose nomination was ultimately rejected by the Senate, was reported unfavorably in 1987; Clarence Thomas, who won confirmation, was reported without recommendation in 1991.

Gorsuch is expected to be reported favorably by the Republican-led committee.

___

THE PROCEDURAL VOTES

Gorsuch is expected to have support from more than half the Senate, but getting to that vote will require several procedural maneuvers. Some Democrats have already said they will try to hold up the nomination, which means Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will have to hold a procedural vote requiring 60 votes to move forward.

Republicans have a 52-48 majority, so at least eight Democrats and independents will have to vote with Republicans. It's unclear whether Republicans will have those votes, meaning Democrats have the ability to block the nomination.

If the nomination is blocked, McConnell has another option. He could hold a vote to change the rules and lower the vote threshold. Former House Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., made a similar change for lower court nominations in 2013, a move called "the nuclear option." McConnell was extremely critical of that move but may have to do it if that's his last option to confirm Gorsuch.

___

THE REAL VOTE

Once the Senate gets past procedural votes, it can hold a simple majority vote to confirm. In recent years, senators have sat at their desks during a Supreme Court vote and stood one by one to cast their votes. The votes have become more partisan over the years; the last unanimous vote was for Justice Anthony Kennedy in 1987.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

Palm Beach County sprays mosquitos, Martin aims for Wednesday
Palm Beach County sprays mosquitos, Martin aims for Wednesday

If you get buzzed and bitten a little less in the next few days, that could be because Palm Beach County resumed aerial spraying to kill mosquitoes Sunday night. Environmental Resource Management Director Rob Robbins said about 90 percent of the county was sprayed, with additional spraying expected in the Glades Monday night. Residents in the western...
Medical pot, drone and 5G wireless laws among 38 signed by Scott
Medical pot, drone and 5G wireless laws among 38 signed by Scott

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed 38 bills Friday from the 2017 regular legislative session and special session. The highest-profile bill (SB 8A) provides rules for implementing the November constitutional amendment that broadened the legal use of medical marijuana in Florida, while others range in issues from setting guidelines for the use of aerial...
Panhandle ally Jimmy Patronis gets Scott nod for Florida CFO
Panhandle ally Jimmy Patronis gets Scott nod for Florida CFO

Florida’s next chief financial officer will be one of Gov. Rick Scott’s original political allies. Scott on Monday turned to former state Rep. Jimmy Patronis, 45, to complete the term of Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, who will leave the elected Cabinet office Friday for a job at Florida Atlantic University. RELATED: Read The Post&rsquo...
Conservative blogger Javier Manjarres considers challenging Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch
Conservative blogger Javier Manjarres considers challenging Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch

Javier Manjarres, managing editor of The Shark Tank website. Fort Lauderdale-based conservative blogger Javier Manjarres says he’s exploring a run for the Democrat-leaning seat of U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton. U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, speaking to Florida delegates at the 2016 Democratic Naitonal Convention...
Can Trump destroy Obama’s legacy?
Can Trump destroy Obama’s legacy?

When the judgment of history comes, former President Barack Obama might have figured he would have plenty to talk about. Among other things, he assumed he could point to his health care program, his sweeping trade deal with Asia, his global climate change accord and his diplomatic opening to Cuba. That was then. Five months after leaving office, Obama...
More Stories