S.RES. 334. EXPRESSING THE SENSE OF THE SENATE THAT THE PRES. SHOULD NOT MAKE RECESS APPOINTMENTS TO THE SUPREME COURT, EXCEPT TO PREVENT OR END A BREAKDOWN IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE COURT'S BUSINESS. KEATING MOTION TO RECOMMIT TO JUDICARY COMM.
This vote was to kill a nonbinding resolution proposed by the Democrats who hoped to pressure President Eisenhower to not use the recess appointment power to fill a vacancy in the Supreme Court. (This vote failed, and the resolution was subsequently passed.)
Although the vote occurred in an election year, there is no indication that this vote was about election year appointments specifically. Eisenhower had used the special recess appointment power to make previous appointments to the Supreme Court, and Democrats objected to further use of the recess appointment power. No President has used the recess appointment power to appoint a justice of the Supreme Court since then.
A recess appointment is made while the Senate is in recess, and while such appointments do not require Senate approval (as all other nominations do) they instead expire at the end of the subsequent legislative session (these days, a calendar year). The Washington Post explained:
Each of President Eisenhower’s SCOTUS appointments had initially been a recess appointment who was later confirmed by the Senate, and the Democrats were apparently concerned that Ike would try to fill any last-minute vacancy that might arise with a recess appointment. Not surprisingly, the Republicans objected, insisting that the Court should have a full complement of Justices at all times.
These days, the Senate often holds pro forma sessions, by gaveling-in for one minute each day, rather than go on recess in a time when the President is expected to use the recess appointment or pocket veto power, thus typically preventing recess appointments. On Feb. 14, 2016, President Obama stated that he would not use the recess appointment power to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Justice Scalia, which occurred during a Senate recess.
Our database of roll call votes from 1789-1989 (1990 for House votes) comes from an academic data source, VoteView.com, that has digitized paper records going back more than 200 years. Because of the difficulty of this task, the accuracy of these vote records is reduced.
From October 2014 through July 2015, we displayed incorrect vote totals in some cases. Although the total correctly reflected the announced positions of Members of Congress, the totals incorrectly included “paired” votes, which is when two Members of Congress, one planning to vote in favor and the other against, plan ahead of time to both abstain.
In addition, these records do not always distinguish between Members of Congress not voting (abstaining) from Members of Congress who were not eligible to vote because they had not yet taken office, or for other reasons. As a result, you may see extra not-voting entries and in these cases Senate votes may show more than 100 senators listed!
“Aye” and “Yea” mean the same thing, and so do “No” and “Nay”. Congress uses different words in different sorts of votes.
The U.S. Constitution says that bills should be decided on by the “yeas and nays” (Article I, Section 7). Congress takes this literally and uses “yea” and “nay” when voting on the final passage of bills.
All Senate votes use these words. But the House of Representatives uses “Aye” and “No” in other sorts of votes.
Statistically Notable Votes
Statistically notable votes are the votes that are most surprising, or least predictable, given how other members of each voter’s party voted.