A Rant About Judicial Hearings

The Alito hearings this week made me cringe. If you watched or heard any of them, you saw senators orating, leading, and in general asking ridiculous questions (both sides). Why didn’t anyone ask either of these two sets of questions:

  • Have you been in a position to have to rule against the executive branch? What did you do? What factors influenced your judgement?
  • As a judge, have you been in a position to rule on Roe v. Wade? What happened in that case?

Why didn’t the senators ask these questions? Alito is a smart enough guy to know that his personal opinions are not supposed to matter, and that he doesn’t have to supply his personal opinions. But he should have been willing to discuss his judicial responses to the facts of a case.

Back to hiring technical people and managers in the next post.

2 Replies to “A Rant About Judicial Hearings”

  1. Johanna,
    I concur with your “A Rant About Judicial Hearings”
    There was a lot of bloviating. I heard a wag say any nominee could contain the bloviation by asking:
    “Senator, I am not quite sure I understand your question correctly. Could you repeat it please?”
    I think Mr. Durbin, Mr. Leahy, and Mr. Schumer were more effective for the Democrats than Mr. Kennedy. At times I think Mr. Kennedy is a bit too long in tooth.
    I think we have made the Supremes too important to us. We should still be at the point where Scalia can get 98-0 and Ginsberg 96-0.
    A couple of more questions for Judge Alito:
    Judge Alito, given the example that the court overturned Plessy v. Ferguson, what are the factors that you consider in overturning a well established case? How do you make your balancing decisions with your factors?
    Judge Alito, judges writing an opinion of a case can approach the case differently. On any cases in which you wrote a minority opinion, did you reexamine the approach you took? If so, what was your thought process, what did you learn, and how did you apply your learning?
    Judge Alito, has your judicial approach to a case changed over the time you have been on the Third Circuit Court? If so, how has your approach changed, what have you learned, and what prompted the change in your approach?
    Judge Alito, have you ever learned anything about yourself after a case has been decided? If so, for one of these cases, what haveyou learned and did you apply your learning?
    Judge Alito, assume you are a senator. What three questions would you ask a nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States? What information would you be looking for with these questions?
    Judge Alito, did any of your colleagues on the Third Circuit ever give you informal feedback on one of your opinions that was critically constructive? If so, of the harshest criticism you received what did you learn? How have you applied the criticism in your judicial approach and/or writing?

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