Has the Confirmation Process of Supreme Court Nominees Become Too Political?
On April 7th, the United States Senate confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. The final confirmation vote tally was split almost entirely along party lines as all Democrat senators voted to confirm while all but three Republican senators voted against her nomination. When President Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Court, the partisan nature of the vote was similarly evident as all but one Republican senator voted to confirm while all Democratic senators voted against. These events have led some commentators to argue that the entire confirmation process of Supreme Court nominees has become too political.
Those who argue that the confirmation process of Supreme Court nominees has become too political contend that the Supreme Court in general has become too involved on political questions. They claim that the Court makes landmark decisions on hotly contested political issues like gun control, abortion, and the limits of free speech that should be left to the legislature. They argue that the Court’s role has gone beyond simply interpreting the Constitution. They contend that political ideology, not the Constitution, sits at the heart of the Court’s decisions. This expanded scope of the political role played by the Court in controversial political and social issues has invited a more partisan nomination process as Americans have sought a Supreme Court reflective of their own political views. Therefore, the make-up of the Supreme Court and its effect on key political and social questions have become part of the partisan battleground.
Those who argue that the confirmation process of Supreme Court nominees has not become too political contend that partisan splits in the votes to confirm justices is nothing new. They contend that this has occurred for centuries, but the Supreme Court has remained above politics despite this. They argue that constitutional interpretations—not politics—is what ultimately divides the Senate when there is a hotly contested confirmation process and that these debates are important. While they may concede that the Court is sharply divided on hot button issues, they argue that a large majority of the Court’s decisions are unanimous, showing that the body is not political—and therefore the confirmation process is not overly partisan.
So, what do you think? Has the Confirmation Process of Supreme Court Nominees Become Too Political? Students may answer Yes, it has; No, it has not; or a nuanced answer in between!
Note: Ideal Think the Vote responses include the following:
- Address the question asked in a thoughtful and meaningful manner
- Use cited facts and constitutional arguments when appropriate to support their answers
- Are expressed in cohesive sentences and are free of distracting spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors
- They address counterarguments and opposing concerns in a respectful manner
- They organize their answer in a manner that flows logically and reads clearly
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