US POLITICS

Actually Ted Cruz, Justices Are Often Appointed During Election Years

The presidential candidate said there's a precedent of not confirming justices during an election year. He's wrong

US POLITICS
U.S. Supreme Court Justices, on January 12. — (Reuters)
Feb 14, 2016 at 2:27 PM ET

President Barack Obama has pledged to nominate a Supreme Court justice to succeed Antonin Scalia before leaving the White House, ignoring the wishes of Senate Republicans who argue that a replacement shouldn’t be chosen until a new president is elected.

Several Republican politicians contend it would be unconstitutional for a justice to be nominated or confirmed during an election year. Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who is running for president, said: “We have 80 years of precedent of not confirming justices in an election year.” And Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the same thing, declaring it’s been “standard practice over the last nearly 80 years that Supreme Court nominees are not nominated and confirmed during a presidential election year.”

More Antonin Scalia’s Death Triggers Heaps Of Praise And Onslaught Of Insults

Not true. A Vocativ analysis of Supreme Court justice appointments over the course of U.S. history shows that almost 20 percent of justices—22 out of a total of 112—were confirmed during an election year, before that year’s election. In fact, it happened as recently as 1988. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was nominated in 1987 by former President Ronald Reagan and confirmed in February 1988, just months before the November presidential election.

History also shows that several justices have been confirmed with fewer than 150 days left before the next president is inaugurated. Salmon Portland Chase, nominated by President Abraham Lincoln, was confirmed just 79 days before his successor’s inauguration. President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed William J. Brennan, Jr. just 97 days before President John F. Kennedy was inaugurated. As of Sunday, there were still 341 days until the January 20, 2017 presidential inauguration. Before the Twentieth Amendment was ratified in 1933, inauguration day was on March 4.