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Aug 29, 1960 .

This vote approved a nonbinding resolution proposed by the Democrats to pressure President Eisenhower to not use the recess appointment power to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. The full title of the resolution was Expressing the Sense of the Senate That The President Should Not Make Recess Appointments to the Supreme Court, Except to Prevent or End a Breakdown in the Administration of the Court's Business.

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 the usual 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.

(A previous procedural vote on the resolution has also been pointed to by the media recently. )


All Votes D R
Yea 56%
Nay 44%
Not Voting

unknown. unknown Required. Source:

The Yea votes represented 59% of the country’s population by apportioning each state’s population to its voting senators.

Ideology Vote Chart

Democrat - Yea Democrat - Nay Republican - Nay

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Notes: Accuracy of Historical Records “Aye” or “Yea”?
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  3. How did your senators vote?
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  5. How much of the United States population is represented by the yeas?
  6. GovTrack displays the percentage of the United States population represented by the yeas on some Senate votes just under the vote totals. We do this to highlight how the people of the United States are represented in the Senate. Since each state has two senators, but state populations vary significantly, the individuals living in each state have different Senate representation. For example, California’s population of near 40 million is given the same number of senators as Wyoming’s population of about 600,000.

    Do the senators who voted yea represent a majority of the people of the United States? Does it matter?

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