How Are Members of the Supreme Court of the United States Appointed?


Quick Answer

After the President of the United States nominates a person to serve as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Senate then votes to either accept or reject the nomination of that individual. If the Senate votes to accept a nomination, the individual serves as a member of the Supreme Court for life.

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Full Answer

As of 2015, the nominations of 28 individuals to serve as Supreme Court justices have failed. The first such failure occurred in 1795 when the U.S. Congress rejected George Washington's nomination of John Rutledge to serve as the Chief Justice. The Congress has voted other nominations down, while other individuals withdrew their own nominations after it became clear they lacked the necessary support for confirmation. Once, the Congress abolished a seat so as to deny the president a chance to fill that opening.

Article III of the U.S. Constitution establishes the Supreme Court with the primary task of ruling on appeals of federal circuit court decisions, as well as other special cases. As of 2015, the U.S. Congress has set the composition of the court at nine members, with one of those nine serving as the Chief Justice. The Chief Justice sets the court's agenda and presides over the court’s oral arguments.

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