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Study Notes

Advice and Consent Powers

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

This is a constitutionally mandated power of the Senate. Presidents must consult with the Senate and seek their approval for the ratification of treaties and executive appointments including ambassadors, judges and cabinet posts.

The power is derived from the Constitution, where in Article II Section 2 it states that ‘with the Advice and Consent of the Senate’. This power forms one of the vital checks and balances that the Senate has over the executive branch of the Federal Government.

In modern US politics, the advice and consent powers are carried out through the use of a Congressional Hearing, performed by the Senate Committees. For example, the advice and consent powers over the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice will take the form of a congressional hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. After the hearings have taken place, and the committee has voted to approve, the advice and consent powers then move to the Senate floor.

In order to confirm appointments, only a simple majority on the floor is needed. This is occasionally increased to a three fifths majority should any Senator decide to filibuster the appointment vote. There are between 1200 and 1400 posts that require Senate confirmation. For the ratification of treaties a two-thirds majority is required in order to do so.

Examples of Advice and Consent Powers

  • 2001 – Convention on Cybercrime – Not ratified until 2006
  • 2002 – SORT (Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty)
  • 2009 – Sonia Sotomayor as Supreme Court Justice
  • 2010 – Elena Kagan as Supreme Court Justice

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