Even one of the founding fathers of the country, President George Washington, had to contend with a politically charged Supreme Court nomination process when his nominee, South Carolina Judge John Rutledge, was rejected on Dec. 15, 1795.
Rutledge had briefly served as an Associate Justice on the high court from 1789 to 1791, but did not attend any court sessions and resigned to serve as a judge in South Carolina. Later, Washington nominated Rutledge to replace Chief Justice John Jay.
The nominee had impeccable credentials as a member of the Continental Congress, the Stamp Act Congress, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 as well as Governor of South Carolina. Rutledge, however, made the mistake of giving a speech attacking the Jay Treaty, an agreement the president and the senate supported for increased trade, as too pro-British.
In a highly unusual situation, the president's own party rejected the nomination after Washington made a recess appointment when the senate was not in session.