This is not the case for Judge Ketanji brown Jackson. She would be first Black woman to serve as Supreme Court Justice if she is confirmed by the Senate. Hearings begin Monday.
Democrats hold the Senate majority due to the tie-breaking vote by Vice President Kamala Harris. They all seem to be willing to support Jackson and could confirm her without one Republican vote.
Many Republicans who opposed Jackson's confirmation as a judge on a federal appeals court last summer are likely to vote against Jackson again.
Both nominations were based on pledges made by presidents while campaigning.
In an effort to revive his campaign, President Joe Biden promised to place a Black woman on that court. In an attempt to soften his conservatism, President Ronald Reagan said that he would open the doors of the exclusive men's club which was the Supreme Court for its first 292 years.
O'Connor was a relatively unknown Arizona judge at the time. The opposition was mainly over her record regarding abortion, which she had previously held in the Arizona senatorial. Alarmist groups protesting abortion raised alarm over Reagan's failure to honor the Republican platform promise of appointing judges who would respect "the sacredness of innocent human life".
Father Charles Fiore was an anti-abortion leader and testified at O'Connor's hearing. He said that Reagan's selection of O'Connor caused "virtually universal disappointment" among rank-and-file right to lifers, as it was not in line with the party platform, Reagan's appeals to white Democrats, who were so crucial to his victory.
However, public opinion polls showed strong support for the nomination. The president had made his decision and the White House didn't want to probe too deeply into the topic of abortion. Joan Biskupic, author of her biography about O'Connor, noted that this was a major reason why the White House did not bother. Biskupic wrote that President Reagan had already put himself on the line for the nominee in "Sandra Day O'Connor": How the Supreme Court's First Woman Became Its Most Influential Judge.
The majority of Senate Republicans followed Reagan's lead, even though some senators privately questioned it.
The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Sen. Strom Thurmond expressed his disgust at the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling by the Supreme Court. This decision guaranteed women the right to abortion. He said O'Connor was limited in her comments about the matter because it was likely to be brought up again before the court.
Thurmond stated that she did not believe she could be censured for not stating how she would vote on abortion as a Supreme Court member, because she would not be able to vote on the question again if it comes before the Supreme Court.
It turned out that O'Connor's anti-abortion sentiments were not unfounded. She would be one of three people who wrote the 1992 decision, which affirmed women's rights to choose. However, the court also gave states greater control over abortion.
O'Connor was also questioned by some Democrats, including Biden (then the Delaware junior senator). Biden stated that if there was one thing about this nomination that concerned him -- and I must admit it doesn't concern me very much at the moment -- it would be your lack of extensive constitutional knowledge.
Biden, one of the 45 Democrats and 54 Republicans, was confirmed when the Senate held its last vote on Sept. 21, 1981. One Democrat was absent on the day of voting.
"It's almost impossible to imagine that this would happen today," Renee Knake Jefferson (University of Houston law professor) said. She is the coauthor of "Shortlisted", a book about women who were under consideration for Supreme Court positions.
From 1981, two senators are still in office: Democrat Pat Leahy from Vermont and Republican Chuck Grassley from Iowa. Leahy voted last year for Jackson; Grassley opposed her nomination to the appeals court.
O'Connor, who will be 92 next week is the last of 25 judges to serve on the court. She retired in 2006. After suffering from dementia, O'Connor retired in 2006.