VERDICT: False. Several other former justices — including former Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, Justice John Paul Stevens, and Justice William Rehnquist — had their hearings begin shortly after the announcement of their respective nominations.
“Nothing about this today is normal. This is not normal. What is going on in America today, in the midst of a deadly pandemic and an ongoing election, having a rushed Supreme Court nomination hearing is not normal and we cannot normalize it,” Booker said in his opening statement on Monday.
“People are voting right now. The American people should decide. The American people should decide. The American people should decide,” he repeated. “I will not be voting to confirm Judge Barrett’s nomination.”
Booker’s assertion, that the current process is “rushed,” is false and was immediately fact-checked by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), who delivered his remarks immediately after the New Jersey senator.
“More than half of all Supreme Court hearings have been held within 16 days of the announcement of the nominee,” Crapo said. “This case is no different.”
“A couple of examples. Justice Stevens, ten days. Justice Rehnquist, 13 days. Justice Powell, 13 days. Justice Blackmun, 15 days. Justice Burger, 13 days,” he continued.
“These proceedings are following right along in the same kind of process that has historically been the process of the Senate,” he added.
He also addressed the Democrat argument that it is an election year, noting that a vacancy has arisen in a presidential election year 29 times. Crapo explained that the sitting president at the time made a nomination to fill the vacancy “every one of those 29 times.”
Nineteen of those 29 times, the parties of the president and Senate majority were the same, and 17 of those 19 nominees were confirmed,” he said, adding, “By contrast, of the ten times of which the Senate was controlled by the party opposite of the president, only one time did the Senate that was not the party of the president proceed to fill that vacancy.”
“In fact, vacancies under a divided government — meaning a Senate and presidency from different parties — have not been filled for over 130 years going back to 1888,” the senator added, effectively debunking his colleague’s claim.
In September, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
addressed similar concerns from Democrats, debunking the “myth” that there simply is not time to properly examine and confirm a nominee to the Supreme Court prior to the presidential election:
United States Senate
“As of today, there are 43 days until November 3 and 104 days until the end of this Congress,” McConnell said at the time. “The late, iconic Justice John Paul Stevens was confirmed by the Senate 19 days after this body formally received his nomination — 19 days from start to finish.”
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, another iconic jurist, was confirmed 33 days after her nomination. For the late-Justice Ginsburg herself, it was just 42 days. Justice Stevens’ entire confirmation process could have been played out twice, twice, between now and November 3 with time to spare. And Justice Ginsburg herself could have been confirmed twice between now and the end of the year with time to spare.
“The Senate has more than sufficient time to process a nomination,” the majority leader added. “History and precedent make that perfectly clear.”