As if all the other ground-shaking political and legal events weren't enough, this week also saw the start of the Confirmation Hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Many political wonks are expecting this to be a contentious debate with an election only weeks away. Regardless, it gives us an opportunity to learn more about the history of Supreme Court nominations and about Judge Barrett as well.

A great place to begin learning about Judge Barrett is her homepage on the Federal Judicial Center. From there, you can read her scholarly articles, book chapters, case opinions and more on this Law Library of Congress page.

Once you have finished reviewing the candidate for the Supreme Court, you may want to learn more about the procedure and how it has developed historically. We turn to our old friend HeinOnline to get a great snapshot of the process thanks to their collection about the History of Supreme Court Nominations. The collection includes not only volumes on the various Supreme Court nominations going back to 1977, but also related works, scholarly articles and bibliographies that cover the entire history of the Court. Here is a primer on what happens when there is a Supreme Court vacancy.

Let's turn back to the Law Library of Congress for another guide - a collection of resources created by or about Supreme Court justices (and a couple who were not confirmed). While this guide "only" covers justices going back to 2005, it is a handy and intuitive resource to begin researching more recent justices. 

Now how about the actual Senatorial procedure? Let's start with a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report from 2018 that focuses on the average length of hearings and which justices had the most votes go against them. A second CRS report digs in even deeper and examines the actions taken by the Senate, the Judiciary Committee and the President from 1789 to 2010. An amazing wealth of information and history!  

Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't include at least a few books on the subject held by the UW Law Library! If you want to dive into specific aspects of the nomination process, these books will help guide your way:

And that's just a start! If you have a more specific question about the nomination process, Judge Barrett or any other justice, just let a reference librarian know and we'll be happy to work through all the numerous resources available to you.

You can always contact us via chat (right at top top of the Law Library page where it says "Chat Now"), phone (608-262-3394), email ( or even in-person...just ask for us at the Circulation Desk! We look forward to hearing from you!

Submitted by Kristopher Turner on November 9, 2020

This article appears in the categories: Law Library

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