Senators Once Again Ask Questions Sotomayor Can’t Answer
Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 11:30 am
Why is it that so many judicial confirmation hearings are dominated by questions from senators that they know the nominee can’t really answer?
Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), just spent much of his questioning time asking Judge Sonia Sotomayor whether she a) believes there is a right to privacy, as the Supreme court has ruled there is; b) whether she thinks Roe v. Wade is still good law; c) whether she agrees with the Supreme Court’s decision that allows a government to take land by eminent domain and turn it over to a private developer; and d) whether the Supreme Court’s decision in an antitrust case that allowed vertical price-fixing was right or wrong.
Kohl knows full well that no candidate to the Court can or would testify that she believes a recent Supreme Court decision is wrong, or that she’s intent on joining the court and then urging her colleagues to reverse their own precedent. So why is he wasting his time?
Not to beat up on Kohl in particular, but it’s a perfect example of how nomination hearings are as much (or more) about political posturing for the senators’ constituents as they are about actually learning more about the nominee. In this case, it was also an easy way for Kohl to hand Sotomayor a golden opportunity to display that she would join the Supreme Court without biases or preconceptions and faithfully apply the law (just as Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito, nominated by President George W. Bush, promised to do before her).
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