Tuesday, February 16, 2016
There’s never been a Supreme Court vacancy NOT filled in a presidential election year
Despite Republican claims that blocking a President’s Supreme Court nomination in a presidential election year is common practice, it hasn’t happen since at least 1900.
In that time, there never has been a case of the president failing to nominate and/or the Senate failing to confirm a nominee in a presidential election year. Even Republican Ronald Reagan’s nomination was confirmed by a Democratically-controlled Senate.
President William Taft (a Republican) nominated Mahlon Pitney to succeed John Marshall Harlan. The Republican-controlled Senate confirmed Pitney.
President Woodrow Wilson (a Democrat) made two nominations during 1916: Louis Brandeis to replace Joseph Rucker Lamar and John Clarke to replace Charles Evans Hughes. The Democratic-controlled Senate confirmed both.
President Herbert Hoover (a Republican) nominated Benjamin Cardozo to succeed Oliver Wendell Holmes. A Republican-controlled Senate confirmed Cardozo.
President Franklin Roosevelt (a Democrat) nominated Frank Murphy to replace Pierce Butler, who was confirmed by a heavily Democratic Senate.
President Ronald Reagan (a Republican) nominated Justice Anthony Kennedy to succeed Louis Powell. A Democratic-controlled Senate confirmed Kennedy (who followed Robert Bork and Douglas Ginsburg as nominees for that slot).
When Sherman Minton retired, President Dwight D. Eisenhower (a Republican), with the Senate adjourned, made a recess appointment of William J. Brennan. Brennan later was formally nominated to the Court and confirmed in 1957.
When President Lyndon B. Johnson (a Democrat) nominated Abe Fortas, Republican Senators filibustered, but there was no vacancy because Chief Justice Earl Warren remained on the bench.
So there has never been a presidential election year nomination not confirmed when there is a vacancy, as there is now.
Contrary to what some Republicans are saying.