Senate Judiciary Committee

Senate Judiciary Committee in the United States

The Senate committee that reviews all federal judicial nominees. The Senate Judiciary (Judicial Personnel issue) Committee is a standing committee of the Senate with jurisdiction over such matters as constitutional amendments, operations of the federal courts, civil liberties, immigration, and revisions of the U.S. Code. The Senate Judiciary (Judicial Personnel issue) Committee screens nominees for all federal courts. Reviews of candidates for the lower federal courts, especially those for the U.S. District Court, are governed by the practice of senatorial courtesy. This arrangement allows Senate members of the president’s party from the state in which the judgeship is located to veto unacceptable candidates. This is done by returning a “blue slip” to the chair of the Judiciary (Judicial Personnel issue) Committee. Return of the blue slip, a blue piece of paper containing the candidate’s name, indicates that the home-state senator(s) was not sufficiently involved in, or disapproves of, the nomination. The traditional senatorial courtesy turns Judiciary (Judicial Personnel issue) Committee screening of district court nominees into little more than a formality. Review of Supreme Court nominees is far more extensive. Evaluation of the candidate by the American Bar Association’s Committee on the Federal Judiciary (Judicial Personnel issue) and background investigations conducted by the FBI are considered by the Judiciary (Judicial Personnel issue) Committee. In addition, hearings are held, and the nominees and other witnesses are heard. The Senate Judiciary (Judicial Personnel issue) Committee concludes its deliberations with a recommendation to the full Senate.

See Also

Advice and Consent (Judicial Personnel issue) Senatorial Courtesy (Judicial Personnel issue).

Analysis and Relevance

The Senate Judiciary (U.S.) Committee performs the Senate screening function for all federal judicial candidates. The committee can do one of several things with a nomination. First, it can conclude the nominee is acceptable and recommend confirmation to the full Senate. Second, it can slow down the confirmation process in hopes that further information or evidence appears. This tactic was used by some members of the committee with the nomination of Judge G. Harrold Carswell to the Supreme Court in 1970. By stretching the process out for several months, opponents of the nominations were able to develop a sufficiently persuasive case to defeat the nomination. If nothing else, delay can test the resolve of the nominating president to stay with a nominee. Third, the committee can conduct highly visible deliberations and pass the nomination on to the full Senate without a recommendation. This allows the debate to continue on the Senate floor. This was the approach taken by the committee with the volatile nomination of Judge Robert H. Bork in 1987. The final option of the committee is to recommend rejection. While the Senate normally will defer to any recommendation, it could vote to confirm a nominee who has not been recommended by the committee. The full Senate is the ultimate authority on judicial confirmation, but it assigns most of the screening work to the Senate Judiciary (U.S.) Committee.

Notes and References

  1. Definition of Senate Judiciary Committee from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California

Senate Judiciary Committee in the United States

Senate Judiciary Committee

United States Constitution

According to the Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, about its article titled SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEEThe Senate Judiciary Committee, created as a standing committee in 1816, is responsible for a vast array of constitutional and legislative issues. The subcommittee structure reveals the broad substantive areas covered by the committee.The Subcommittee on Immigration and
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Senate Judiciary Committee: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

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