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Here’s how long it’s taken to confirm past Supreme Court justices

<i>Shannon Finney/Getty Images</i><br/>Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is seen on February 14
Getty Images
Shannon Finney/Getty Images
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is seen on February 14

By Jessica Campisi and Devan Cole, CNN

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s plans to retire from the high court after nearly three decades on the bench are set to pave the way for a speedy confirmation process for his eventual successor.

Breyer, the court’s senior liberal justice, had been facing intense retirement calls from some Democrats who feared that if he didn’t step down while the party controlled the White House and held a razor-thin majority in the Senate, Republicans could have eventually been the party to determine the fate of his replacement.

Breyer is expected to stay on until the end of the court term and until a replacement is confirmed, a well-placed source familiar with the matter told CNN.

Already, Breyer’s retirement plans have prompted Senate Democrats to begin eyeing a quick confirmation process for whomever President Joe Biden nominates to replace him, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer saying on Wednesday that he will follow a similar timeline to the one that Republicans employed to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the court in 2020, according to a source familiar with this thinking.

Senate Democrats only need a simple majority of 51 votes to confirm a new justice once one is formally nominated. Currently, there are just 48 Democrats in the Senate, with two independents who caucus with the party. Should no Republicans join Democrats in voting in favor of Biden’s nominee, Vice President Kamala Harris would need to cast a tie-breaking vote in order to get the nominee over the finish line.

Here’s a look at how long it has taken to confirm past Supreme Court justices:

Amy Coney Barrett (30 days)

President announces nomination: September 26, 2020

Senate receives nomination: September 29, 2020

Confirmed: October 26, 2020

Brett Kavanaugh (89 days)

President announces nomination: July 9, 2018

Senate receives nomination: July 10, 2018

Confirmed: October 6, 2018

Neil Gorsuch (66 days)

President announces nomination: January 31, 2017

Senate receives nomination: February 1, 2017

Confirmed: April 7, 2017

Elena Kagan (87 days)

President announces nomination: May 10, 2010

Senate receives nomination: May 10, 2010

Confirmed: August 5, 2010

Sonia Sotomayor (72 days)

President announces nomination: May 26, 2009

Senate receives nomination: June 1, 2009

Confirmed: August 6, 2009

Samuel Alito (92 days)

President announces nomination: October 31, 2005

Senate receives nomination: November 10, 2005

Confirmed: January 31, 2006

John Roberts (72 days)

President announces nomination: July 19, 2005

Senate receives nomination: July 29, 2005

Confirmed: September 29, 2005

(Note: Roberts was nominated twice by Bush but in immediate succession. The first was to replace Sandra Day O’Connor, but upon the death of William Rehnquist, his initial nomination was withdrawn and resubmitted as a nomination for Chief Justice. There are 23 days between his second nomination on September 6 and his confirmation.)

Stephen Breyer (77 days)

President announces nomination: May 13, 1994

Senate receives nomination: May 17, 1994

Confirmed: July 29, 1994

Ruth Bader Ginsburg (50 days)

President announces nomination: June 14, 1993

Senate receives nomination: June 22, 1993

Confirmed: August 3, 1993

Clarence Thomas (106 days)

President announces nomination: July 1, 1991

Senate receives nomination: July 8, 1991

Confirmed: October 15, 1991

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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