Supreme Court of The United States

Antonin Scalia was confirmed to the Supreme Court 98-0. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed 96-3. Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell voted for both of them.

Ketanji Brown Jackson cannot expect such bipartisan approval. But why?

Senators once believed their constitutional “advise and consent” for Supreme Court nominations meant ensuring that a nominee was professionally qualified and free of any serious ethical concerns. Senators did not expect a nominee to agree with their personal politics, and presidents were given broad latitude to nominate justices who agreed with their judicial philosophy.

But as Congress has become more dysfunctional — and less able to pass legislation to solve our problems and settle tough debates — the court system has become the arbiter of last resort. For partisans on both sides, a Supreme Court nomination is now the ultimate battle for every issue they care about and everything they believe in.

In this No Labels View, we look at how and why our Supreme Court nominations have been consumed by the partisan tribalism that consumes almost everything else in our politics.

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