Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died on February 13, 2016 and his seat on the SCOTUS has been empty ever since. President Obama‘s push to nominate a replacement for Scalia was thwarted by Republicans in Congress, who vowed to wait until after the next president was sworn in to consider a new Justice. President Trump will be inaugurated on January 20, 2017. On that date, the Supreme Court will have had just eight justices — instead of the standard nine — for 342 days.
Democrats have vowed to be as intransigent as Republicans on a new nomination. But whereas GOPers had to stall for a mere 342 days — less than a year — the Dems are looking at four years of a Trump presidency. While it’s unlikely Scalia’s SCOTUS seat will remain empty that long, a successful resistance would mean the Court would have just 8 members for 1802 days (1460 days of Trump’s administration added to the total so far). And that’s if none of the remaining Justices, many of them elderly, die in the interim. The current record for leaving a Supreme Court Justice seat open — 841 days — ended in 1846 when President James K. Polk managed to nominate an acceptable candidate for the bench. In the most recent long absence current Justice Anthony Kennedy had his nomination by Ronald Reagan approved in 1988, after 237 days with nobody in the 9th chair.
[Check out The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin]