U.S. Supreme Court

The Pressure Is On for Confirmation by Oct. 4; Will GOP Press for Delay?

Will the Senate be able to confirm a nominee to replace Justice John Paul Stevens by the start of the Supreme Court term on Oct. 4?

Stevens announced today that he is stepping down at the end of the court’s term, rather than waiting until a successor is confirmed, SCOTUSblog notes. “That choice puts much heavier pressure on both the president and the Democratic leaders of the Senate, because they will not have time to stretch out the process,” the blog says.

According to a separate SCOTUSblog post, the Senate began confirmation hearings for then-nominee Sonia Sotomayor on July 13, 48 days after her nomination. The Senate Judiciary Committee sent her nomination to the Senate 15 days later, and she received Senate approval nine days after that.

This year, SCOTUSblog says, the Senate could consider the nomination of a successor between July 12 and Aug. 6, before and after which the Senate will be on breaks known as “state work periods.” But the blog acknowledges a possibility that Senate Republicans will try to delay confirmation until after the Nov. 2 election in hopes that they will gain some seats in the Senate.

In any event, the blog says, “It is almost universally expected that Republicans in the Senate, although a minority, will announce a sustained effort to prevent Senate approval of any nominee that President Obama sends up for confirmation.”

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