Judge/Justice Confirmation ProcessAppointments for Supreme Court justices and other federal judgeships follow the same basic process:
- The President nominates a person to fill a vacant judgeship.
- The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on the nominee and votes on whether to forward the nomination to the full Senate.
- If the nomination moves forward, the Senate can debate the nomination. Debate must end before the Senate can vote on whether to confirm the nominee. A Senator will request unanimous consent to end the debate, but any Senator can refuse.
- Without unanimous consent, the Senate must pass a cloture motion to end the debate. For most federal judgeships, the cloture motion requires a simple majority—51 votes—to pass.
- For Supreme Court nominees, cloture requires a three-fifths majority—60 votes—to pass.
- If the cloture motion doesn’t pass, debate continues in what’s known as a filibuster. The filibuster can effectively stall the process of voting on confirmation indefinitely.
- Once the debate ends and the Senate votes on confirmation, just 51 votes are needed to confirm the nominee for Supreme Court justice or any other federal judgeship.
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