The process of selecting Supreme Court justices is one of the fundamental elements of the American democracy. As infrequent as it is, the process of selecting and appointing a Supreme Court justice is an event of unprecedented significance in the U.S. (Rutkus 1). The Supreme Court exercises enormous power and remains the final interpreter of the U.S. Constitution (Dorsen 652). Unfortunately, the U.S. Constitution provides only brief guidance for the selection procedure. Article II of the Constitution includes the “Appointment Clause”, which states that the President selects Supreme Court justices with the consent of the Senate. Simply put, the President proposes a candidate, who must be approved by the Senate. As a result, the process of selecting Supreme Court justices reflects and further reinforces the constitutional sharing of the legislative and executive powers between President and Senate (Rutkus 1).
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It should be noted that, over the past two hundred years, the process of selecting Supreme Court justices underwent certain changes and became more complex (Dorsen 652). Different Presidents used different criteria in selecting and appointing justices, including professional merit and political ideology pursued by the candidate (Dorsen 652). Selecting Supreme Court justices is not an easy task, but, very often, the process loses its objectivity and becomes purely political. At times, the role played by the Senate Judiciary Committee (an intermediary between the President and the Senate) is ignored. At times, Presidents are allowed to appoint Supreme Court justices without the Senate’s consent, in periods of the so-called “recess” (Rutkus 2). In the absence of detailed constitutional requirements, President and Senate have relative freedom to change and improve the process within the boundaries set by the Constitution. However, the discussed process will hardly ever lose its political coloring.
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