For the second time in four years, a sitting Supreme Court justice has died during a presidential election year. Justice Antonin Scalia died Feb. 13, 2016, and his friend Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Sept. 18, 2020. The question is how the president and Senate will approach this new vacancy.
The appointment process, including a nomination by the president and consideration by the Senate, follows the same basic pattern most of the time. But it’s a mistake to think it must always happen that way. The Constitution gives the Senate not only the power of “advice and consent,” but also authority to determine its own “rules of proceeding.”
In other words, the Senate decides for itself how to handle nominations, and it has handled Supreme Court nominations at least a dozen different ways, depending on the circumstances.
This piece originally appeared in The Federalist