The Republican leadership has said that they will wait to confirm a replacement for Antonin Scalia until next year. I have researched the U.S. Supreme Court justices for the past about 125 years — since 1888. Sixty-three justices have been sworn in since then. Thirteen of these took their seats in presidential election years. Of the first eight (1888-1932), the White House changed parties in six of them. The two exceptions were in 1916 during Wilson’s first term.
Of the five since then, four have been during the presidential re-election year. The exception being 1988, when Vice President George H.W. Bush was running for president during Reagan’s last year. In the years after the president was sworn in, 16 justices were sworn in, none of them were nominated the year before. Thus no precedent exists for carrying over a vacancy.
If the Senate waits until next year to confirm a justice it will optimistically be a year with a vacancy on the court, perhaps as long as a year and a half with the court adjourning for the summer in June. The only instances where a vacancy has lasted over a year has been when there has been a confirmation turned down.
Thus, no reason exists for the U.S. Senate to delay voting on the confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice, except for the purely political reason that the Republicans hope that a Republican would be elected president in November. That is a pretty shabby reason.
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Frank Rogers, Belleville