Judge Brett Kavanaugh addresses the assembled audience in the East Room of the White House moments after President Donald Trump nominated him to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the court. July 9, 2018.

Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court are scheduled to start on Sept. 4, the committee said Friday.

The hearings on Kavanaugh’s nomination will come just weeks before the start of the next term. The first conference day of the coming October term is Sept. 24, and the first day of oral argument is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 1.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that he wants to confirm Kavanaugh before the start of the October term. With hearings on Kavanaugh’s nomination scheduled to begin in the first full week of September, that leaves fewer than 30 days between the opening of the hearings and the start of the coming term.

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the judiciary chairman, said he expects Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing to last up to four days. Kavanaugh is expected to face questioning on Sept. 5, the committee said. The committee hasn’t announced a witness list, but said to expect “testimony by those who know Judge Kavanaugh the best, outside legal experts, and the American Bar Association.”

The September 4 start date would come 57 days after President Trump’s announcement of Kavanaugh’s nomination. The committee’s announcement of the forthcoming hearings noted that the three most recently confirmed justices—Neil Gorsuch, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor—had hearings 48 to 49 days after the president announced their respective nominations.

Senate Republicans action on the vacancy created by Justice Anthony Kennedy’s departure means they aim to fill his seat less than three months after his July 31 retirement. The Senate’s inaction on Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination by President Barack Obama meant the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat remained vacant until Gorsuch was confirmed—more than 400 days after the vacancy was created.

The 15 Supreme Court vacancies since 1970 before Kennedy’s exit were filled within 55 days on average, according to the Pew Research Center. The longest gap between a vacancy and a replacement justice came in 1846, when Justice Robert C. Grier filled a slot that remained open for 841 days—or more than two years—after the death of Justice Henry Baldwin.


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