The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
This evening, by a vote of 52-48, the U.S. Senate approved the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to be the 103rd Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He confirmation comes only thirty days after her nomination by President Trump, and only eight days before the election.
Justice Barrett's confirmation is the closest before a Presidential election in our nation's history. It is not, however, the quickest confirmation. Not close. Multiple justices within our nation's history have been confirmed within a day of being nominated, though no justice has been confirmed that quickly in nearly 80 years; James Byrne was confirmed the day he was nominated in 1941. (There's a handy list on pp. 9-11 of the Appendix to Ilya Shapiro's Supreme Disorder.)
As Adam Feldman notes, the confirmation of Justice Barrett is the quickest confirmation since that of Associate Justice John Paul Stevens in 1975, who was confirmed in only 19 days. Justice Blackmun was confirmed within 27 days in 1970, and Sandra Day O'Connor was confirmed in 33 days in 1981. Jsutice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who Justice Barrett replaces, was confirmed 42 days after her nomination in 1993.
Since the mid-1970s, it's typical for nominations to take 70 days or so. Of sitting justices, Clarence Thomas took the longest to confirm. He was confirmed 99 days after his nomination in 1991. Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed in 88 days.
Setting aside justices who were never confirmed because the Senate failed to act on their nomination, as happened with Merrick Garland, the longest confirmation was for Associate Justice Louis Brandeis. The Senate took 125 days to confirm Brandeis in 1916. Justice Potter Stewart comes in second, as it took the Senate 108 days to confirm him in 1958.