The process is actually happening pretty quickly.
Before Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson can make history as the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States, she has to make it through an intense vetting process — namely, her Senate confirmation hearings, and following confirmation vote. While the hearings ended on March 24, Jackson and her supporters are still staring down the vote that would confirm her. So, when will the Senate vote on Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court? Here’s what the timeline looks like so far.
On Monday, March 28, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated that he hopes to bring the Senate to a final vote on Jackson’s nomination before Easter recess, which begins on April 8. “It was obvious why the judge’s nomination has won the support of everyone from law enforcement, to conservative judges, to scores of peers throughout her career,” Schumer said, per The Hill. “I expect she will reach final confirmation by the end of this work period.”
The process to confirm a Supreme Court justice isn’t too complicated, but it can be long: After the president nominates a candidate, the Senate Judiciary Committee is responsible for holding confirmation hearings on whether to recommend (or not) a president’s Supreme Court Justice nominee to the rest of the Senate. During the hearings, various members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will put the nominee through an in-depth evaluation that involves interviews, testimonies, and more. After the hearings have concluded, the committee votes on how to recommend her to the Senate as a whole — either positive, negative, or neutral. Then the final step: The Senate will cast a vote on the nominee to decide whether or not she will officially be appointed as a Supreme Court Justice.
However, the timeline on Senate confirmation hearings can vary greatly. According to CNN, it typically takes around two months to confirm a new justice to the nation’s most influential court. In 2020, it took just under 30 days to confirm Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, the most rapid confirmation process in Supreme Court history as the Senate’s Republican majority was eager to get her confirmed before the 2020 presidential election. In contrast, the dubious honor of the longest confirmation process goes to Robert Bork in 1987, at a hefty 108 days. (Bork was ultimately rejected by the Senate.)
All that’s needed to confirm Jackson to the court is a simple 51-50 majority, which can be surprisingly difficult to achieve. Because the current Senate is literally evenly split along party lines — there are currently 50 Republican senators and 48 Democrats, along with two Independents who caucus with the Democrats — the vote can sometimes end up in a gridlock. However, if there is a tie, Vice President Kamala Harris can cast a tie-breaking vote to settle the matter. So while it’s still unclear whether or not Jackson will be the next justice to serve on the Supreme Court, one thing is certain: We’ll find out soon.