by AndrewMc | 7/17/2009 12:57:00 PM
I can't possibly be the only person watching/listening to the Sotomayor testimony and thinking two things:

1. Is there really nothing more important that exploring, exploring, exploring again, whipping like a rented mule, and then probing one more time except the "wise Latina" comment?

and . . .




2. I understand that the Senate is supposed to be an august body, full of deliberation and respect, and polite looking-the-other-way behavior when a colleague does something dumb. But the Democrats have the votes to confirm her. There's no question. Why didn't someone pull Judge Sotomayor aside and say "Look, if they bother you too much about the "Wise Latina" thing, reap 'em a new one. Just go to town. Don't worry, we've got your back."

At least then the hearing would be more interesting and less predictable.

What were confirmations like back in the 19th century? Were they this political? I'm betting that nobody asked Taney what his views were on slavery before he was confirmed.


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5 Comments:


Blogger Ahistoricality on 7/17/2009 2:59 PM:

My understanding is that confirmation hearings are a post-WWII phenomenon, and that failed confirmations are historically rare.

The nominee definitely should be able to say "asked and answered" after the first two or three floggings.

 

Anonymous Ralph Luker on 7/17/2009 11:44 PM:

Actually, there were no confirmation hearings prior to Woodrow Wilson's nomination of Louis D. Brandeis in 1916. Brandeis did not appear for the hearings on his nomination. In 1939, Felix Frankforter was the first nominee to testify at his own confirmation hearings.

 

Blogger mark on 7/19/2009 9:57 PM:

"Why didn't someone pull Judge Sotomayor aside and say "Look, if they bother you too much about the "Wise Latina" thing, reap 'em a new one. Just go to town. Don't worry, we've got your back."

Because that's not how "the world's most exclusive club" works. Senators take a dim view of witnesses, whoever they are, ripping another Senator, even a goddamned fool, "a new one"( incidentally, Sotomayor's statement was a stupid one on it's face as it puts her impartiality into question - judges sould refrain from outside political speeches for this reason).

Hearings are designed for the benefit of the Senators, the Senators are not not there for the benefit of the nominee or the witness. There's a certain decorum expected and most chairmen will intervene to enforce it and/or generally rig the game, if required.

 

Blogger Jeremy Young on 7/21/2009 1:30 AM:

Mark, the problem is that the hearings aren't being used for the benefit of the Senators, they're being used for political posturing. We've been here before, on the other side: much as I enjoyed watching Sheldon Whitehouse rip Alito a new one during the 2005 hearings, it didn't do Whitehouse or anyone else a goddamned bit of good. It was just a waste of time.

If the Senate wanted a bit of theater that was somewhat more edifying, they would call in conservative legal scholars to rip apart Sotomayor's opinions. Hearing Robert Bork attack Sotomayor wouldn't be pretty, but at least it might have a bit more substance.

 

Blogger AndrewMc on 7/21/2009 6:26 AM:

"Sotomayor's statement was a stupid one on it's face as it puts her impartiality into question"


This assumes that judges are impartial, and not driven by their life experiences.


"Hearings are designed for the benefit of the Senators"


Hearings are designed for the Senators' constituents. Nothing gets accomplished in those hearings other than political posturing. I can't think of a single SCOTUS confirmation in my lifetime where we actually learned something about the nominee that we didn't know already, or find out through other means.