Supreme Court nomination process: How a new justice gets on the bench

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With the retirement of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, the two non-judicial branches of the federal government with work together to get a new justice on the bench. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The process of getting a new U.S. Supreme Court justice on the bench involves the two non-judicial branches of the federal government. It all begins with the president in the executive branch, who is tasked with selecting a Supreme Court nominee to fill the vacancy.

From that point, the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing in which the nominee testifies and takes questions from committee members, according to the American Bar Association. That committee must then unanimously agree to move the nominee to the full U.S. Senate, who then votes to confirm or deny the nominee.

If the Senate does not vote to confirm the nominee, the president must identify a new candidate.

With the impending retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, the timing of President Donald Trump's nomination and the subsequent Senate confirmation are crucial. Trump has a chance to nominate a second justice who could cement the court's conservative bend and deliver Republican victories for years to come.

Various civil rights groups are backing calls from Democratic lawmakers to hold off on a vote to confirm Kennedy's replacement until after the November elections.

In 2016, Senate Republicans refused to consider then-President Barack Obama's court nominee, Merrick Garland, during the election year, leaving the seat vacant for Trump's nominee of Neil Gorsuch in 2017.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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