Supreme Court Nominations Fast Facts

Here's a look at what you need to know about Supreme Court nominations.

Under Article II of the Constitution, the President nominates justices to the Supreme Court, with the "advice and consent of the Senate."

If a vacancy occurs when Congress is not in session, a recess appointment allows an appointee to serve without Senate approval until Congress reconvenes.

One hundred and sixty nominations have been submitted to the Senate. One hundred and twenty four were confirmed to serve on the Supreme Court.

Other Facts:
The American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary
evaluates all nominees to the Supreme Court for the Justice Department and the Senate Judiciary Committee. The organization has three possible rankings: qualified, well-qualified, and not qualified.

Nine men have been appointed chief justice of the United States without having previously served as an associate justice: William Howard Taft, Earl Warren, Melville W. Fuller, Warren E. Burger, Fred M. Vinson, Morrison R. Waite, Salmon P. Chase, Roger B. Taney (nominated as associate justice but never confirmed, so re-nominated as chief justice), John Marshall, Oliver Ellsworth, John Jay, and John Roberts.

Three justices served on the Supreme Court before being appointed chief justice: William Rehnquist, Charles Evans Hughes, and John Rutledge, who served as interim chief justice for less than six months.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, and George W. Bush are the only presidents of the 20th century who did not make an appointment to the Court during their first term. Roosevelt went on to appoint nine justices during his twelve-year presidency.

1952 -
Presidents begin consulting the American Bar Association before making Supreme Court nominations.

1950s - President Dwight Eisenhower makes recess appointments of Earl Warren, Potter Stewart, and William J. Brennan. All three are later confirmed by the Senate.

1955 - Nominees begin appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee for confirmation hearings.

1981 - Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings are televised for the first time.

1987 - Robert Bork is the last Supreme Court nominee to be rejected by the Senate. The next nominee, Douglas Ginsburg, withdraws over allegations of drug use. Anthony Kennedy takes the seat.

1991 - Justice Clarence Thomas wins Senate confirmation by the narrowest margin in the 20th century, 52-48.

1990s - President Clinton is the first Democratic president since 1967 to fill a Supreme Court vacancy. He appoints two: Justice Stephen Breyer and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

March 22, 2001 - The Bush Administration announces it will not consult with the ABA before judicial candidates are formally nominated. The administration says it is concerned about the ABA's semi-official role in the process.

October 3, 2005 - John Roberts is sworn in as chief justice of the United States, replacing William Rehnquist, who died on September 3.

October 27, 2005 - Harriet Miers withdraws her Supreme Court nomination.

January 31, 2006 - Samuel Alito is confirmed by the Senate (58-42) as an associate justice, replacing Sandra Day O'Connor. He is immediately sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts.

August 6, 2009 - Sonia Sotomayor is confirmed by the Senate in a 68-31 vote, as the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court. Sotomayor replaces Justice David Souter who is retiring.

August 8, 2009 - Sonia Sotomayor is sworn in as the 111th Supreme Court Justice.

May 10, 2010 - President Barack Obama nominates Solicitor General Elena Kagan to fill the seat of retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

August 5, 2010 - Elena Kagan is confirmed by the U.S. Senate (68-31) as an associate justice.

August 7, 2010 - Kagan is sworn in as the 112th Supreme Court Justice.