Let the Games, I Mean, Hearings Begin…

Today the Senate Judiciary Committee began the confirmation hearings on Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to be associate justice of the Supreme Court. The hearings will be webcast live online via the Committee website and all statements will be available online as well. The hearings will also be available via C-SPAN.hearings

For those of us who may have forgotten, I will remind you of how the nomination and confirmation process works.

Article II section 2 of the Constitution states that the Presidents “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint … Judges of the Supreme Court…” U.S. Const. art. 2 § 2, cl. 2.
The process:
1. The President usually will consult with Senators before announcing a nomination.
2. When the President nominates a candidate, the nomination is sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.
3. The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on the nominee. The Committee usually takes a month to collect and receive all necessary records, from the FBI and other sources, about the nominee and for the nominee to be prepared for the hearings.
4. During the hearings, witnesses, both supporting and opposing the nomination, present their views. Senators question the nominee on his or her qualifications, judgment, and philosophy.
5. The Judiciary Committee then votes on the nomination and sends its recommendation (that it be confirmed, that it be rejected, or with no recommendation) to the full Senate.
6. The full Senate debates the nomination.
7. The Senate rules allow unlimited debate (a practice known as filibustering). To end the debate, it requires the votes of 3/5 of the Senate or 60 senators (known as the cloture vote).
8. When the debate ends, the Senate votes on the nomination. A simple majority of the Senators present and voting is required for the judicial nominee to be confirmed. If there is a tie, the Vice President who also presides over the Senate casts the deciding vote.

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