Originally Answered: What are qualifications of a Supreme Court justice?
From wikipedia, "Nomination, confirmation and tenure of Justices
Article II of the United States Constitution provides the power to appoint Justices belongs to the President of the United States, acting with the "advice and consent" of the Senate. As a general rule, Presidents nominate individuals who broadly share their ideological views. However, nominees whose views are perceived as extreme may be blocked by the Senate (see List of Failed Nominations to the Supreme Court of the United States). In many cases, a Justice's decisions may be contrary to what the nominating President anticipated. A famous instance was Chief Justice Earl Warren; President Eisenhower expected him to be a conservative judge, but his decisions are arguably among the most liberal in the Court's history. Eisenhower later called the appointment "the biggest damn fool mistake I ever made".
While the President may nominate anyone (there are no qualifications listed in the Constitution regarding prior legal or judicial experience, nor are there any exclusions of foreign-born nominees), the "advice and consent" of the Senate is required for appointment. The confirmation process often attracts considerable attention from special-interest groups, many of which lobby senators to confirm or to reject. The Senate Judiciary Committee conducts hearings, questioning nominees to determine their suitability. Thereafter, the whole Senate considers the nomination; a simple majority vote is required to confirm or to reject a nominee. Rejections are relatively uncommon; the Senate has explicitly rejected only twelve Supreme Court nominees in its history. The most recent rejection of a nominee by vote of the full Senate came in 1987, when the Senate refused to confirm Robert Bork. In 1991, Clarence Thomas's nomination was hampered by allegations of sexual harassment, but the Senate eventually confirmed him by a vote of 52-48.
Not everyone nominated by the President has received a floor vote in the Senate. For example, a nominee may be filibustered. A filibuster indefinitely prolongs debate thereby preventing a final vote on the nominee. It is also possible for the President to withdraw a nominee's name at any time before the actual confirmation vote occurs. This usually happens when the President feels that the nominee has little chance of being confirmed. Most recently, President George W. Bush granted a request by Harriet Miers to withdraw her 2005 nomination before even a committee hearing had been scheduled, citing her concerns about Senate requests for access to internal White House documents during the confirmation process. Prior to that, President Ronald Reagan in 1987 withdrew the name of Douglas H. Ginsburg soon after the announcement of his nomination because allegations of marijuana use had arisen concerning him.
While senators may attempt to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee in an attempt to thwart confirmation, no nomination for Associate Justice has ever been filibustered. However, President Lyndon Johson's nomination of sitting Associate Justice Abe Fortas to succeed Earl Warren as Chief Justice was successfully filibustered in 1968.
Until the 1980s, the approval process of Justices was frequently quick. From the Truman through Nixon administrations, Justices were typically approved within one month. From the Reagan administration through the current administration of George W. Bush, however, the process took much longer. Some speculate this is because of the increasingly political role Justices are said to play.
When the Senate is in recess, the President may make a temporary appointment without the Senate's advice and consent. Such a recess appointee to the Supreme Court holds office only until the end of the next Senate session (at most, less than two years). To continue to serve thereafter and be compensated for his or her service, the nominee must be confirmed by the Senate. Of the two Chief Justices and six Associate Justices who have received recess appointments, only Chief Justice John Rutledge was not subsequently confirmed for a full term. No president since Dwight Eisenhower has made a recess appointment to the Supreme Court and the practice has become highly controversial even when applied to lower federal courts.
The Constitution provides that Justices "shall hold their Offices during good Behavior" (unless appointed during a Senate recess). The term "good behavior" is interpreted to mean life tenure. However, Justices may resign, retire, or be removed by impeachment and conviction by congressional vote (the last has never occurred). On average, a vacancy arises every two years; however, long stretches without any vacancies occur from time to time. For instance, no vacancy arose for the eleven years between Stephen Breyer's appointment in 1994 and Chief Justice William Rehnquist's death in 2005.
The Supreme Court's jurisprudence is often evaluated with respect to the service of a particular Chief Justice. Thus, for example, the Court between 1969 and 1986 is referred to as the "Burger Court" (for Chief Justice Warren E. Burger) and the Court between 1986 and 2005 is referred to as the "Rehnquist Court" (for Chief Justice Rehnquist)."