Hamilton on Judicial Nominations
The spectacle of Supreme Court confirmation hearing is upon us once again. In theory, such hearings could serve a useful purpose, as Adam White explains in the Washington Post. Alas, our Senators have generally not been up to the task.
Confirmation hearings tend to confirm the wisdom of granting the nomination power to the President, as opposed to the Senate. Alexander Hamilton explained this rationale in Federalist No. 76: “one man of discernment is better fitted to analyze and estimate the peculiar qualities adapted to particular offices, than a body of men of equal or perhaps even of superior discernment.” And even when the White House is not occupied by a “man of discernment,” allowing the President to make the nomination is preferable to leaving it in the hands of some Senate Committee.
The sole and undivided responsibility of one man will naturally beget a livelier sense of duty and a more exact regard to reputation. He will, on this account, feel himself under stronger obligations, and more interested to investigate with care the qualities requisite to the stations to be filled, and to prefer with impartiality the persons who may have the fairest pretensions to them. He will have FEWER personal attachments to gratify, than a body of men who may each be supposed to have an equal number; and will be so much the less liable to be misled by the sentim
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