Why Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings Serve Useful Purposes
On Monday, the Senate will begin holding confirmation hearings for President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Modern confirmation hearings have many flaws, and there is no shortage of critics decrying recent hearings as useless, ridiculous, a “circus,” or even “verging on the absurd.” Many of the criticisms are valid. For example, it’s true that many of the questions and statements made by the senators are grandstanding, rather than serious examinations of the nominee’s views and qualifications.
Nonetheless, I believe confirmation hearings serve a useful purpose. I explained why in an October 2020 post written at the time the Senate was considering the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett. Most of what I said remains valid today:
[T]he hearings serve useful purposes, despite their severe flaws. Requiring the nominee to run this gauntlet deters the nomination of cronies and hacks who aren’t knowledgeable and smart enough to avoid looking like idiots on national TV, as well as those who lack basic knowledge of constitutional law issues. As [Adam] White puts it, ” the process deters palpably unqualified nominations. Presidents know they cannot nominate a judge who cannot convey a basic understanding of the law in response to senators’ questions.”
The confirmation process also creates opportunities for opposing party senators (and others) to dig for possible ethical and other flaws in the nominee’s background. This too helps deter some of the worst potential nominees….
I have significant disagreements with, and reservations about, all of the justices confirmed during my professional lifetime. But all are highly capable jurists, and none have turned out to be simply crude minions of whichever president or party secured their appointment. In the cases of Neil Gorsuch and Sonia Sotomayor, they have even turned out to be significantly better in some respects than I expected at the time….
In addition, the
Article from Reason.com