Republicans hold a slight edge in the number of committee members and in the Senate as a whole, and so could confirm Barrett with party-line votes. However, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has already said she would vote no, and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has opposed a nomination before the election, though both have said they would meet with Barrett, according to POLITICO.
The two most recent court nominees have only been narrowly sent by the Judiciary Committee for a vote of the full Senate, with other nominees in the 1990s receiving unanimous votes in the committee.
Justice Neil Gorsuch was approved by an 11-9 vote in April of 2017, and Kavanaugh by an 11-10 vote in October of 2018 after a contentious set of hearings; senators considered allegations of sexual assault made against Kavanaugh dating back to his teenage years.
However, in the 1990s, several Supreme Court justices were approved by the committee by a unanimous vote, including Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg who were each approved by an 18-0 vote in 1994 and 1993, respectively.
Two other recent nominees never even received a vote by the Judiciary Committee.
In 2016, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) decided not to support the confirmation that year because of the presidential election-an action that Senate Republicans are appearing to contradict in starting the confirmation process for Barrett before the presidential election on Nov. 3.
In 2005, nominee Harriet Miers also did not receive a vote by the Judiciary Committee, withdrawing her nomination 21 days after she was selected by President George W. Bush.
According to the Senate website, of the 163 nominations for the Supreme Court made since 1789, 126 were confirmed and seven declined to serve.
Traditionally, judicial nominees needed 60 votes in the Senate to survive a filibuster, a parliamentary procedure where one senator can hold up a vote. In 1968, nominee Abe Fortas was recommended by the committee during a presidential election year but his confirmation in the Senate was held up by a filibuster; President Lyndon B. Johnson subsequently withdrew his nomination.
In 2013 then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) changed the parliamentary rules and abolished the filibuster for many federal judicial nominees and executive appointments, in a move known as the "nuclear option."
Once Republicans gained the Senate majority in 2015, current Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has since used the move to confirm federal judicial nominees, including Supreme Court nominees Kavanaugh and Gorsuch.
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Supreme Court confirmations have recently taken around two to three months. The proximity of Barrett's nomination to Election Day raises questions as to whether McConnell can secure a confirmation vote by Nov. 3, only 38 days after the nomination.
Not since the confirmation of Sandra Day O'Connor in 1981 has a justice been confirmed in fewer than 38 days. Nominee Robert Bork was defeated by a vote of 58-42 in the Senate in 1988 after 108 days, while the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed by the Senate in only 42 days.