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Why Did It Take So Long To Confirm Brandeis?

by Erin Gow on 2020-08-05T09:00:00-04:00 | Comments

On January 28, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson nominated Louis D. Brandeis to the Supreme Court. It was not until June 1, 1916, (over four months later) that the Senate finally confirmed the nomination. For many years, that length of time was the record for the longest confirmation process of a Supreme Court justice. (The record was broken by Merrick Garland, although since his confirmation was never voted on by the Senate, there are some who argue that Brandeis still holds the record.)

What took the Senate so long? Fierce opposition from a number of wealthy and influential men led to a protracted and contentious hearing before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee that was formed to determine whether Brandeis was fit for the Court.

Librarian Scott Campbell has written an in-depth, two part look at the confirmation process for his blog. Part 1 is a timeline of all of the pertinent events between Brandeis’s nomination and his confirmation. Part 2 looks at the various charges his critics made that were supposed to show Brandeis’s lack of ethics. Brandeis’s enemies obviously failed but the fight they put up had long reaching consequences. What was once unprecedented has now become the norm with Supreme Court nominations. These posts show how it all began.


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