Four Republican senators have said that they would not vote on a justice before the election. I am wondering about circumventing the risk of the senators following through on that by holding the vote right after the election.

Here's what I mean. The SCOTUS justice is put up for a vote during the lame duck session. This is done to minimize the risk of the senators saying no. It is also done to make sure the nominee is properly vetted.

Is there any public indication that Trump and McConnell are planning on this type of appointment to the Supreme Court? And, has this ever been done before in order to secure sufficient votes for a SCOTUS justice?

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    Not exactly. I want to know if there are any publicly known indications of this possibly taking place. Sep 19, 2020 at 21:27
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    That’s likely speculation on future events, at least for now
    – divibisan
    Sep 20, 2020 at 0:46
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    I think some of these 4 senators are up for reelection and their chances are not that great. So they may not be in the Senate in January.
    – markvs
    Sep 20, 2020 at 0:59
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    a supporting source for "Four Republican senators have said..." would be good to include as it is a premise of the question
    – uhoh
    Sep 20, 2020 at 2:50
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    @uhoh Murkowski, Collins, and Romney I believe have all said this, though prior to RBG's actual death, I think. The former chair of the Judiciary committee had once made this sort of statement, but he's recently backtracked and reversed on that (and he's not the chair anymore). I can't remember his name. Sep 20, 2020 at 3:06

1 Answer 1


Q: Is there any public indication that Trump and McConnell are planning on a [lame-duck Senate confirmation vote] to the Supreme Court?

It seems rather unlikely that such a plan existed since Trump nominated and the Senate confirmed Amy Barrett as an associate justice before the election.

Q: And, has [a lame-duck Senate confirmation vote] ever been done before in order to secure sufficient votes for a SCOTUS justice?

In Lame Duck Appointments? We've Had a Few, there were some mentioned — well ... a few.

The article notes that:

Lame-duck nominations were a common feature of nineteenth-century appointment politics, accounting for 16 percent of all nominations made before 1900, but there have been no lame-duck nominations in over a century. Lame-duck nominations also had a high rate of failure.

The last lame-duck appointment was Judge Howell Jackson, a former Senate Democrat. Nominated by Republican Benjamin Harrison on Feb 2, 1893, and confirmed by the Senate on Feb 18, 1893. Democrat Grover Cleveland was elected president in Nov 1892 and took office on Mar 4, 1893.

In the 1892 election, Republicans had lost both the presidency and the Senate majority. With only two months remaining, nominating a Republican would have resulted in a failed nomination. Selecting a former Democratic senator was a risk, but Judge Jackson was confirmed by voice vote. Had Harrison not nominated Judge Jackson, Cleveland may have nominated someone less acceptable to Republicans.

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