Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

September 3, 2009 7:57 PM

The Supreme Court and the Other Appellate Courts

From 1975 through 1988, the 4 Justices (Stevens, O'Connor, Scalia, and Kennedy) nominated by Republican Presidents were confirmed without a dissenting vote. Souter received 90 votes in 1990, after being nominated by a Republican President.

The first interruption in this string of rather painless confirmations came in 1991 when Thomas, nominated by a Republican, was seated with a 52-48 vote. In 1993 and 1994, Ginsburg and Breyer, both nominated by a Democratic President, received 96 and 87 votes, respectively.

Since that time, half or more of the members of the Party not in control of the White House voted against the nominees. Roberts and Alito, nominated by Bush, were confirmed with 78 and 58 votes, respectively. Sotomayor, nominated by Obama, split the difference, receiving 68 votes, of which 57 were from the majority Democratic Party. Here are the complete details:

Justice Year
Vote Partisan Split
In Senate
Vote by
Stevens 1975 Ford 98-0 Yes

NV= 2 No

I-1, C-1 NV
O'Connor 1981 Reagan 99-0 D-46 Yes D-45 R-53 I-1

NV=1 R-53 No

I-1 NV D-1

Scalia 1986 Reagan 98-0 D-47 Yes D-47 R-51

NV=2 R-53 No
NV R-2
Kennedy 1988 Reagan 97-0 D-55 Yes
NV=3 R-45 No
Souter 1990 Bush 1 90-9 D-55 Yes D-45 R-44
NV=1 R-45 No D-9 I-1
NV R-1
Thomas 1991 Bush 1 52-48 D-57 Yes R-54 D-4
R-43 No D-40 R-1 I-1
Ginsburg 1993 Clinton 96-3 D-56 Yes R-54 D-4
NV=1 R-44 No R-3
NV D-1
Breyer 1994 Clinton 87-9 D-56 Yes D-56 R-33
NV=4 R-44 No R-9
NV R-2 D-2
Roberts 2005 Bush 2 78-22 D-44 Yes R-54 D-4
R-55 No D-40 R-1 I-1
Alito 2006 Bush 2 58-42 D-44 Yes R-54 D-4
R-55 No D-40 R-1 I-1
Sotomayor 2009 Obama 68-31 D-58 Yes D-57 R-9 I-2
NV-1 R-40 No R-31
I-2 NV D-1

Looking at the Supreme Court and the 13 Federal Appellate Courts, it will be a long time before the overall "political" bent of these courts will change in any appreciable way.

The following is a summary of the "political" membership of the Federal Appeals Courts (as of December 2008) that decide 31-32,000 cases per year, while the Supreme Court decides 75.

Two of the courts are split 50%/50%; 10 have majority GOP membership; 1 has a majority DEM membership.

  • 1st - 60% GOP majority
  • 2nd - 50%/50% split
  • 3rd - 50%/50% split
  • 4th - 55% GOP majority
  • 5th - 76% GOP majority
  • 6th - 63% GOP majority
  • 7th - 73% GOP majority
  • 8th - 82% GOP majority
  • 9th - 59% DEM majority
  • 10th - 67% GOP majority
  • 11th- 58% GOP majority
  • 12th - 70% GOP majority
  • 13th- 67% GOP majority

[WP 12/08]

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