Examine the process for selecting Supreme Court judges in the USA (10)

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  • Examine the process for selecting Supreme Court judges in the USA (10)
    • The Court is an unelected body. Each of its nine members is selected by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
    • Congress can alter the number of judges on the Court, which was successfully used as a threat when the Court was striking down New Deal legislation in the 1930s.
      • ALSO Congress can modify laws which have been declared unconstitutional so that, despite a Supreme Court ruling, a law continues to apply in an altered form
    • Appointments are usually infrequent, as a vacancy on the nine-member Court may occur only once or twice, or never at all, during a particular President’s years in office.
      • Under the Constitution, Justices on the Supreme Court receive lifetime appointments. Such job security in the government has been conferred solely on judges and, by constitutional design, helps insure the Court’s independence from the President and Congress.
    • The procedure for appointing a Justice is provided for by the Constitution in only a few words.
      • The “Appointments Clause” (Article II, Section 2, clause 2) states that the President “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint ... Judges of the supreme Court.”
        • The process of appointing Justices has undergone changes over two centuries, but its most basic feature—the sharing of power between the President and Senate—has remained unchanged
    • To receive lifetime appointment to the Court, a candidate must first be nominated by the President and then confirmed by the Senate.
      • Although not mentioned in the Constitution, an important role is played midway in the process (after the President selects, but before the Senate considers) by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
    • Presidents also have made Court appointments without the Senate’s consent, when the Senate was in recess.
      • Such “recess appointments,” however, were temporary, with their terms expiring at the end of the Senate’s next session
        • The last recess appointments to the Court, made in the 1950s, were controversial because they bypassed the Senate and its “advice and consent” role.
    • The Senate has to approve all judicial appointments made by the President.
      • In 1987 the Senate rejected President Reagan’s nominee as a Supreme Court justice, Robert Bork. The campaign in the Senate was led by Democrat Senator, Ted Kennedy.

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