Since President Barack Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to serve on the Supreme Court, the topic of Supreme Court appointments has made news again. This is nothing new -- these appointments have been matters of tremendous importance to American law almost since the inception of the United States.
A president's nomination to the Supreme Court can make a profound impression on history, so it's important to understand how these appointments work. From how justices are nominated, to who's qualified to serve and how a nominee is approved, it's a pretty involved process. And of course, there are some complicated politics that come into play. We'll start with the basics on the next page.