The constitution divides responsibility in between the executive and also judicial branches - the president and also the Senate.

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A president’s many visible and consequential nomination may take place when a seat opens on the supreme Court.


Historically, the Senate has confirmed most presidential nominations, but “in rarely instances” a vote to confirm has actually failed.


Americans have tendency to think of your president together the most powerful person in the world, yet the Constitution limits the strength of all 3 branches of government—the president as well as the Congress and the commonwealth courts.

In the situation of filling optimal positions in the executive and judicial branches, the structure divides responsibility between the president and the Senate. Article II, section 2 empowers the chairman to nominate and—“by and with the Advice and also Consent the the Senate”—to choose principal officers such as department heads as well as subordinate people such together deputies.

The process of the president’s nomination of room secretaries, and the Senate’s check of them, is perhaps finest known come the public yet still rather mysterious.

Steps in the Process

The Congressional study Service, which studies and also analyzes legislature matters because that members the the Senate and House, breaks it under this way:

First, the White house selects a prospective appointee and sends a official nomination come the Senate.

Second, the Senate determines even if it is to confirm the nomination.

Third, the president presents a signed commission come the successful nominee and he or she is sworn in, assuming government to lug out the duties of the office.

The appointments clause of the Constitution mentions that the president

shall nominate, and also by and with the Advice and Consent the the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges the the can be fried Court, and also all other police officers of the unified States, whose Appointments room not herein otherwise noted for, and which shall be created by Law.

In the case of cabinet secretaries and also other appointees request Senate confirmation, the White house personnel office (or a president-elect’s shift team in the case of an just arrive administration) preliminarily selects and vets a prospective appointee prior to sending a officially nomination come the Senate.

Judicial Nominations

The constitution empowers the president to appoint federal judges, most of i m sorry sit on one of two people a U.S. Ar Court (with 673 judgeships) or a Circuit Court the Appeals (with 179 judgeships).

Nominations to to fill judicial openings are subject to check by the Senate after gift reviewed by the chamber’s Judiciary Committee, which also holds hearings. A president’s many visible, and also consequential, judicial nominations happen when a seat opens on the can be fried Court.

Presidents have nominated a total of 161 persons to the high court. Since 1930, the Senate has shown 59 and rejected four (one nominated by Herbert Hoover, two by Richard Nixon, and one by Ronald Reagan). Four nominees i was withdrawn (out of 7 in history).

Since 1845, the Senate has actually taken no activity on only five Supreme Court nominees, the recent being Merrick Garland in 2016. Obama, a for free Democrat, selected Garland to fill a vacancy created by the February 2016 death of justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative. Republican leadership made decision to adhere come a Senate tradition of not advancing Supreme Court nominees in a presidential election year.

The Judiciary Committee, in spite of pressure from Democrats, took no activity on the nomination and Garland go not development to the floor for a confirmation vote. This clearing the way for a brand-new Republican president, Donald Trump, to fill Scalia’s seat.

The Paperwork Hurdles

Members that Congress and other interested parties may recommend candidates for executive branch positions. However, a president or president-elect no bound by together recommendations, follow to the Congressional study Service, whose recent reports top top the confirmation procedure provide the basis because that this article.

A candidate because that a cabinet or other top place fills out miscellaneous forms, such as a gaue won disclosure report and a nationwide security questionnaire. The Office of Government values is available to overview a candidate with the paperwork.

The FBI frequently does a background check and also submits a report. The Office of federal government Ethics, in addition to an principles official indigenous the appropriate agency, evaluate the financial disclosures. If they find conflicts of interest, castle may aid the candidate mitigate them.

Because every this takes time, potential nominees for the greatest positions usually obtain priority. In 2004, conference amended the regulation governing presidential transitions to encourage a president-elect to put forward candidates because that the nationwide security team soon after the election.

In the Senate

How the Senate treats a presidential nomination varies depending on what the conference Research service calls “the prominence of the place involved, existing politics circumstances, and policy implications.”

The Senate’s executive, management clerk typically refers a nominee come a certain committee or committees based upon rules and also precedents. 

The appropriate committee investigates the nominee, hold hearings, and also reports come the full Senate. Employee for Republican and Democrat senators draw on the submitted information, but additionally collect their own.

Senators might want to check out a nominee’s character, qualifications, and also policy views—and this can gain testy when individual senators, or your party, decision to protest a nominee.

A committee has three options in voting come send a nomination to the complete Senate: Report that favorably, unfavorably, or without recommendation. However the committee may decrease to plot at numerous points—after it receives the nomination, after that investigates, or after the holds hearings. If the committee no act, in some situations the Senate may still lug the nomination to the floor because that a vote.

In 2011, to ease the logjam of president Obama’s appointees awaiting confirmation, the Senate embraced a resolution allowing nominations for specific positions come bypass a committee and also go to the full Senate for a vote. The committee still collection background, however. And also if a solitary senator objects to the emergency process, the nomination goes come committee as usual.

Recess Appointments

In some circumstances not normally connected with a new president’s initial room appointments, the president may fill vacancies in executive, management branch location temporarily. One way is v a recess appointment.

The constitution empowers the chairman to make this type of limited-term meeting to to fill a vacancy without Senate confirmation once that room in recess. Recess appointments, however, expire at the end of the Senate’s following session.

In the modern-day era, presidents have used their power of recess meeting to circumvent the process and so conference responded through legal constraints on paying together appointees in part cases. Due to the fact that 2007, the lawmakers at times have used an innovative scheduling to avoid the president from making recess appointments.

President Obama’s controversial usage of recess appointments culminated in a unanimous supreme Court judgment in June 2014 that he violated the structure in making three appointments come the nationwide Labor connections Board during a quick Senate recess in 2012. Not just were Obama’s appointments unconstitutional, yet so were board decisions including those appointees.

In the high court’s first-ever decision top top the breadth that the president’s strength in making recess appointments, the justices stated such appointments must be made during a Senate recess lasting at least 10 days. And also if the Senate says it is in session, the court ruled, it’s in session.

Confirming a Nomination

Historically, the Senate has evidenced most presidential nominations, yet “in rare instances” a vote to confirm a significant appointment has actually failed ~ above the Senate floor.

Opposition indigenous one or more senators might prevent a floor vote since the Senate cannot schedule the vote missing unanimous consent.

To get rid of a filibuster, the Senate might “invoke cloture”—voting to limit debate and proceed come a floor vote.

Traditionally, this forced support indigenous at the very least 60 of the 100 senators; in 2013, however, democrats circumvented the rules through the nuclear option to require only a simple majority of those voting—51 in many cases. The only exception: a nomination come the can be fried Court. 

The same simple majority is required to check a nomination. In the case of a tie, the vice president casts the deciding vote.

Rejected and Withdrawn Nominations

At this writing, the Senate has actually rejected only nine the a president’s cabinet nominations. 4 were make by embattled Whig-turned-Independent man Tyler in 1843 and also 1844, including choices for secretary that war and treasury secretary.

In 1834, Democrat Andrew Jackson ended up being the first president to lose a major confirmation fight once the Senate rubbish his recess appointment of i get it Taney together treasury secretary through a poll of 28-18.

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In 1868, the Senate rejected Democrat Andrew Johnson’s nomination that Henry Stanbery together attorney general, 29-11. Stanbery search to regain the post after resigning to safeguard Johnson in his impeachment trial.

In the previous 100 years, the Senate has actually rejected three nominations, all from Republican presidents: