The Supreme Court Seat Has Never Been Left Vacant During An Election Year
This weekend we reported that Conservative Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who voted against Obamacare, same-sex gay marriage and said affirmative action sends black students to schools “too advanced” for them, peacefully passed away at age 79 while in Texas.
Unfortunately, as soon as the death was announced Republicans declared they would stonewall any decision President Obama took to move forward with a successor. According to SCOTUS Blog, there’s never been a time in history where the seat was left vacant.
The historical record does not reveal any instances since at least 1900 of the president failing to nominate and/or the Senate failing to confirm a nominee in a presidential election year because of the impending election. In that period, there were several nominations and confirmations of Justices during presidential election years.
The first nomination during an election year in the twentieth century came on March 13, 1912, when President William Taft (a Republican) nominated Mahlon Pitney to succeed John Marshall Harlan, who died on October 14, 1911. The Republican-controlled Senate confirmed Pitney on March 18, 1912, by a vote of fifty to twenty-six.
On February 15, 1932, President Herbert Hoover (a Republican) nominated Benjamin Cardozo to succeed Oliver Wendell Holmes, who retired on January 12, 1932. A Republican-controlled Senate confirmed Cardozo by a unanimous voice vote on February 24, 1932.
On November 30, 1987, President Ronald Reagan (a Republican) nominated Justice Anthony Kennedy to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Louis Powell. A Democratic-controlled Senate confirmed Kennedy (who followed Robert Bork and Douglas Ginsburg as nominees for that slot) on February 3, 1988, by a vote of ninety-seven to zero.
In two instances in the twentieth century, presidents were not able to nominate and confirm a successor during an election year. But neither reflects a practice of leaving a seat open on the Supreme Court until after the election.
Sit down Republicans!!!!!