The Supreme Court of the United States (hereafter SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States. Established pursuant to Article III of the U.S. Constitution in 1789, it has original jurisdiction over a small range of cases, such as suits between two or more states, and those involving ambassadors.
It also has ultimate (and largely discretionary) appellate jurisdiction over all federal court and state court cases that involve a point of federal constitutional or statutory law. The Court has the power of judicial review, the ability to invalidate a statute for violating a provision of the Constitution or an executive act for being unlawful. However, it may act only within the context of a case in an area of law over which it has jurisdiction.
The Court may decide cases having political overtones, but it has ruled that it does not have power to decide nonjusticiable political questions. Each year it agrees to hear about 100–150 of the more than 7,000 cases that it is asked to review.
Because the SCOTUS has the power to invalidate legislation, it is considered tremendously important to maintain an ideological majority on the Court if one wishes to maximize the chances of successfully implementing a legislative agenda or maintaining a legal status quo. For many decades, the Court has been considered to have been composed of Justices with ideological biases, and observers frequently refer to individual Justices as 'Conservatives,' 'Liberals,' or 'Swing votes' depending on their perceived ideological biases. Because Justices can serve for life, potentially spending decades on the Court, vacancies are relatively rare and are considered major political events in the United States.
According to federal statute, the Court normally consists of the Chief Justice of the United States and eight Associate Justices. Once appointed, justices have lifetime tenure unless they resign, retire, or are removed from office.
The President of the United States has the sole authority to nominate persons for the position of Justice of the Supreme Court. Following nomination by the President, a nominee must be confirmed by the Senate to take office. Previously, this confirmation process required 60 votes.
On November 21, 2013, the Senate voted 52–48 to rule that "the vote on cloture under Rule XXII for all nominations other than for the Supreme Court of the United States is by majority vote," even though the text of the rule requires "three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn" to end debate. This ruling's precedent eliminated the 60-vote requirement to end a filibuster against all executive branch nominees and judicial nominees other than to the Supreme Court. The text of Rule XXII was never changed.
On April 6, 2017, the Senate voted to remove the SCOTUS exception created in 2013. As such, a nomination to the SCOTUS now requires only 50 votes for confirmation.
The most recent vacancy arose in 2018. On June 21, 2018, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court and transition to senior status, effective July 31, 2018. Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh took his place on the Court, taking the oath of office on October 6, 2018.
This question asks: when will the next SCOTUS vacancy arise?
For the purposes of this question, a vacancy arises when a sitting Justice dies, is removed from office, or on the date that their resignation or retirement (e.g. the assumption of senior status) takes effect (as opposed to the date that the intention to resign or retire is announced).
This question closes and resolves retroactively one day before a sitting Justice dies, announces his or her intention to resign or retire, or proceedings begin to remove him or her from office. Such proceedings are deemed to begin when a majority of the House of Representatives votes to approve an indictment to impeach a sitting Justice.