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The Myth of the Thurmond Rule

In recent presidential election years, senators from the political party that does not hold the presidency have threatened to slow or halt the pace of non-consensus judicial confirmations. Over time, this practice has come to be known as the “Thurmond Rule,” named after Senator Strom Thurmond, who opposed President Johnson’s nomination of Abe Fortas to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court during the summer of 1968.

The Thurmond Rule is not a formal Senate procedure or a bipartisan agreement, nor has its meaning or parameters been clearly articulated. In fact, as shown below, over the last 30 years, confirmations of district and circuit court nominees have continued well into presidential election years under both Democratic and Republican presidents.

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Alliance for Justice has prepared a brief fact sheet on the Thurmond Rule. Click here to download the PDF.