Supreme Court Confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett: A “Blatant Act of Bad Faith”?

Connie Chang, Josh Freeman


In the Senate proceedings on Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Senate Democrats (and at least two Republicans) claimed that a confirmation of Supreme Court Justice in a presidential election year would be a break with Senate tradition—a violation of the mythologized “Thurmond Rule.” Named for Senator Strom Thurmond, the scope of the rule and its origins are murky. The rule likely originated in Thurmond’s campaign against President Jimmy Carter’s judicial nominees of 1980, when Thurmond served as ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. This article discusses the Supreme Court confirmation process, Barrett’s background and nomination, the speed with which she was confirmed to the nation’s highest Court, and the conclusion of the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service on whether the Thurmond Rule truly exists. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer declared the Barrett confirmation a “blatant act of bad faith” by the Republican majority in the Senate, which in 2016 invoked the Thurmond Rule to defer Senate action on President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. As detailed by the Congressional Research Service, the Thurmond Rule has been invoked inconsistently by both parties at politically convenient times.

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