Supreme Court Selection Process

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The appointment of a Supreme Court Justice is an infrequent event of major significance in American politics. Each appointment is important because of the enormous judicial power the Supreme Court exercises as the highest appellate court in the federal judiciary. Appointments are 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 (CRS Web).

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 (CRS Web).

In a criminal trial, a trial judge's beliefs or expectations for a defendant's guilt may be manifested either verbally or nonverbally (by facial gestures, body movements, or tone of voice) and can be reflected in a judge's comments on evidence, responses to witness testimony, reactions to counsels' actions, or in rulings on objections. Improper beliefs or expectations, if manifested in a judge's behavior, could warrant reversal and judicial disqualification (Pearson...
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