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Classroom Deliberation: Should the United States Senate Conduct Confirmation Hearings for a Supreme Court Vacancy in a Presidential Election Year?

As part of C-SPAN’s “Classroom Deliberations” site (produced by C-SPAN’s Senior Fellows, designed to engage students in classroom deliberations about current issues being debated in the United States) a new lesson:

  • Should the United States Senate Conduct Confirmation Hearings for a Supreme Court Vacancy in a Presidential Election Year?

    Following the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on February 13th, 2016, the Republican controlled Senate and leading Republican presidential candidates stated that a Supreme Court vacancy which occurs in the same calendar year as a presidential election should be left vacant until the newly elected President can make a nomination. President Obama believes the President has a Constitutional responsibility to make a nomination when a vacancy occurs.

    Democratic Senators, currently in the minority, argue that no Supreme Court nominee sent to the Judiciary Committee by a sitting President in the last 100 years has been denied a hearing. Senate Republicans argue that Democrats are on record in the past as having supported the idea of not holding hearings on potential candidates nominated by President Bush in the last year of his Presidency.

    Is the Senate violating its Constitutional responsibility to provide “Advice and Consent” to President Obama’s nominee?

    Should a lame duck president be allowed to make a lifetime appointment in the final months of their administration?

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