David S. Broder of the Washington Post thinks that Supreme Court confirmation hearings are pretty useless
He writes today, "The antiseptic hearings and the near-party-line vote
illustrate the two great failings of the modern confirmation process.
[...] The nominees have become less and less informative, not daring to
repeat [defeated SCOTUS nominee Robert] Bork's mistake of actually
arguing for his view of fundamental
He is not alone. In last week's New Yorker,
Jeffrey Toobin described the refusal of nominees to discuss anything
substantive as "stonewalling
," writing, "The fact that Judge Sotomayor managed to avoid discussing any of this
throughout four days of testimony is indicative of the way the
confirmation process, as it is now designed, misleads the public about
what it is that Justices do." Michael Crowley of the New Republic was so bored by the unsubstantive hearings that he called them
"like Project Runway
, only with uglier models."
Even before the hearings, The Atlantic's Bob Cohn called for the hearings to be halted altogether
"Enough," he wrote. "Nominees to the Supreme Court should not appear before
Congress. They should not meet with members of the Judiciary Committee
chitchat about their amazing life stories and how they'll vote on Roe
They should give the committee copies of their past speeches and
writings, their prior rulings, their tax filings, and their Twitter
nicknames. Then they should get out of Washington and wait for
Back in the Senate, two high-ranking members have some ideas on how to spice things up. In Broder's column today, Senators Patrick Leahy and
Lindsay Graham said that "a partial remedy lies in asking the nominees how they
reached their conclusions in past cases or administrative rulings and
gauging their approach to the law from their answers." Also, they said they try even harder to "exploit their private meetings with nominees
in their offices, before formal hearings begin." Convinced? Broder offers only this mild endorsement: "If
their examples spread, we might avert the ugly partisanship of recent
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