The Law: Must the Senate Take a Floor Vote on a Presidential Judicial Nominee?



President George W. Bush has frequently urged the Senate to fulfill its constitutional duty and vote on his nominations to the federal courts. The administration argues that the Senate must hold up-or-down floor votes on all judicial nominees. Senate Democrats counter that the president is trying to short-circuit the procedural steps of the confirmation process. Currently, both sides are waging an ideological and institutional battle over the judicial confirmation process. This article analyzes the claim that the Senate must vote on all of the president's judicial nominees, and concludes that there is no basis for requiring that the Senate must hold mandatory confirmation votes for lower-court nominees. By tradition, the Senate generally takes floor votes for nominations to the Supreme Court.