MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing started on Tuesday, and the first couple of days have been filled with protests, disruptions and Senate push-back.
Over the last few years this seems to be a trend. In 2016, President Obama nominated Judge Merrick B. Garland to the Court. However, Garland’s confirmation hearing never even occurred, as the Senate, then controlled by Republicans, refused to meet for the hearing. And in 2017, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch was confirmed by a narrow margin of 9 votes.
However, Supreme Court confirmation hearings weren’t always this divided. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that some Supreme Court Justices were confirmed by 100 percent of the Senate.
Since 1975, four Justices were confirmed without any push back. This hasn’t happened in 30 years.
So why are Supreme Court Confirmation hearings so divided in recent years?
WCCO’s Pat Kessler says the division is a reflection of our country’s growing polarization.
“Today’s contentious Supreme Court nominations reflect a more deeply divided America. In past Supreme Court picks, Democrats or Republicans might philosophically oppose the nominee but generally agree the person is qualified to do the job,” says Kessler. “Judge selections are now part of a high stakes political strategy with electoral consequences.”
And while the country has increasingly become more polarized over the last decade, Judges have still ocassionally rallied the support of both parties, despite the political affiliation of the President who nominated them. In fact, in 1993, Justice Ginsburg was confirmed by a vote of 96-3, and in 2005, Chief Justice Roberts was confirmed by a vote of 78-22.
Still, over the last few years, it seems evident that Supreme Court confirmation hearings have never been more divided than they are now.