Scalia passed away earlier today. His departure leaves a gaping hole in the U.S. Supreme Court, leaving it divided along ideological lines. More importantly, his departure leaves the court without a deciding vote.
Hours later, Senate Majority Leader McConnell tweeted, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice.” It is a nice sentiment, but the next president will not take office until January 20, 2017. That is 339 days away. How many days typically pass before a vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court is filled?
After some quick data analysis, not too long. The average wait time comes to a shade under 130 days. Further, the number of seats left vacant for more than 339 days comes to eight, or approximately 7% of the time.
The nine U.S. Supreme Court Justices (Roberts, Alito , Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, Kennedy , Sotomayor, Thomas) waited an average of 45 days before filling the vacancy. Kennedy, the outlier at 237 days, still beats the McConnell timeframe by 101 days.
Let us stick with tradition and replace Scalia within the next 130 days. Waiting any longer would smack of a political smear on one of the nation’s most important institutions.
Data Source – Wikipedia