How Long Does It Usually Take Supreme Court Nominees To Get Confirmed?

In light of the newest allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, many are calling for his confirmation to be delayed. How long does the nominee-to-justice process usually take?

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Protesters rally in front of the Supreme Court while demonstrating against the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the court September 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

In light of the newest allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, many are calling for his confirmation to be delayed. How long does the nominee-to-justice process usually take?

Donald Trump and many Republicans are calling for Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to move forward, while just as many Democrats are crying for a delay. Is the confirmation hearing taking too long? What’s the normal wait time for a nominee to become a justice, anyway?

Since the Supreme Court was formed, there have been 125 confirmations. Only seven people have declined to serve on the court, according to CNN. President George Washington, who nominated far more Supreme Court justices than any other president, waited only a matter of days before his nominees were confirmed. But things have changed quite a bit since then.

In the modern era, it’s more common for a period of several weeks to a few months to elapse between nomination and confirmation. Two to three months has been a pretty typical wait time dating back to 1980, according to official United States Senate records.

According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), since the 1980s every nominee has been granted a hearing and vote within 100 days of being nominated. It took 99 days for Clarence Thomas to be confirmed, a situation complicated by Anita Hill’s allegations of sexual harassment on his part.

The exception to this is, of course, Merrick Garland. He was named in 2016 as a nominee by Barack Obama, with more than nine months left in his presidency. At the time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated that he would not meet with Garland. He did not allow a confirmation hearing to ever be held, as reported by NBC News.

Brett Kavanaugh was nominated by Donald Trump on July 10 of this year, 78 days ago as of the writing of this article.

Michael Avenatti, legal counsel representing one of Kavanaugh’s accusers, Julie Swetnick, has called for the Kavanaugh confirmation to be delayed due to the numerous allegations of sexual assault swirling around Kavanaugh. As of Wednesday night, five women have now come forward to report sexual assault allegedly perpetrated by Kavanaugh.

Avenatti released a sworn declaration from Swetnick the night before a hearing is scheduled to take testimony from Christine Blasey Ford regarding the sexual assault she alleges to have experienced. As of Wednesday evening, the Thursday hearing is still scheduled to go forward as planned.

Kavanaugh has strongly denied all the allegations against him, and gave a highly publicized interview earlier this week to call the claims “totally false and outrageous,” as reported by Fox News.

“Sexual assault is horrific,” Kavanaugh says in his prepared testimony, released by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday ahead of the Thursday hearing. “It is morally wrong. It is illegal.”