Article II, section 2 of the Constitution gives the President the power to nominate principal officers of the judiciary and executive branch. Their appointment is, however, subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.
The President transmits the name of and a brief statement about the nominee to the Executive Clerk of the Senate who refers the nomination to the appropriate committee. For example, nominees for federal judgeships and the Attorney General are referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary; the Senate Committee on Finance considers nominees for the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service.
After holding hearings on the nomination, the committee sends a recommendation and a Senate Executive Report forward to the Senate. A simple majority of the entire Senate must then vote on the confirmation. After confirmation, nominees are appointed. Nominations terminate if they are not acted upon by the end of a Congress.
To find nomination hearings, first search the law library's online catalog. Many, but not all, hearings will be listed by title in the online catalog. Most hearings are shelved in the Superintendent of Documents collections under a Superintendent of Documents classification number.
If the hearing is not located through the online catalog, use the CIS Annual to identify all hearings published since 1970. For hearings published between 1833 and 1969, use the CIS Index to U.S. Congressional Committee Hearings. To identify hearings that were not published, use the CIS Index to Unpublished U.S. Senate Committee Hearings 1823-1964 and supplements. Nominations can be indexed under several entries, such as the subject "nominations," the name of the nominee, and the committee holding the hearing.
Senate Executive Reports are indexed by subject, committee, and nominee name in the CIS Annual from 1970 to date. The CIS Index to U.S. Senate Executive Documents and Reports, 1818-1969, indexes the earlier nominations.
The Catalog of United States Publications, also identifies published hearings and Executive Reports and indicates their Superintendent of Documents classification number.
The law library has all published hearings since 1935. Most hearings are on microfiche. For hearings from 1935 through 1980, use CIS microfiche. From 1980 to date the hearings may be found in either the Superintendent of Documents stacks or in the Superintendent of Documents microfiche.
Since 1980, Senate Executive Reports have been published as part of the Serial Set. Executive Reports can also be found in the CIS microfiche from 1817 to 1969 under the CIS reference number; from 1970-80 under the CIS abstract number; and since 1981 in the Superintendent of Documents collection of microfiche under the number Y 1.1/6:.
Sources for information regarding the legislative proceedings on nominations include the Congressional Record and the Journal of Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States. Congress.gov reports on Senate legislative activities relating to Presidential nominations from 1987 to date.
Another useful source is the Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents which has a list of nominations at the end of each issue. The Daily Compilation is available on LexisNexis in the genfed, exec, and legis libraries as the presdc file and on Westlaw in presidential documents.
An up-to-date list of current executive branch, not judicial, nominations is found in the CCH Congressional Index.
Hearings and executive reports on nominees for the United States Supreme Court since 1916 are reprinted in the series The Supreme Court of the United States: Hearings and Reports on Successful and Unsuccessful Nominations of Supreme Court Justices, which is available on HeinOnline. Supreme Court nomination hearings since 1971 are also on GPO Access.