What is the nomination process for federal judges and Supreme Court justices?
For the majority of the appointments made in lower federal courts, although it is the duty of the President to appoint these position, most of the appointments and the legwork around them are done by members of the Justice Department. This is due to the sheer numbers of openings in low federal courts during any moment. Typically the way that lower federal court judges are selected is through a joint effort of the President’s office and the senior senator of that state at the time. This is most commonly referred to as senatorial courtesy and is mostly used in the appointment of district court judges.
On the other hand, appellate court judges do not normally enjoy the use of senatorial courtesy. Even though this may be the case, the way in which court appointments are vetted is through a number of agencies like the FBI and the Bar Association, even though this step yields no necessary recommendation power as seen in the 2001 Bush administration. The Senate Judiciary Committee is the primary source of approving nominated judges, and there is normally little opposition to judges.
Supreme Court Justices, and the nomination and appointment of them by the President are typically subjected to more scrutiny from both the public and the legislative branch of government. After examining many factors such as politics, religion, age, and race, the President may nominate an individual to fill a vacant role in the Supreme Court. When chosen, the individual is nominated by the President, and this then requires approval from the Senate. First, this nominee must be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and then gain a majority vote of all 100 Senators.