Barrett’s confirmation may be certain, but these Senate hearings are invaluable
In the Washington Post, Adam J. White, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, makes the case for why Supreme Court nomination hearings are important.
“Yet despite all this, proper Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominees are indispensable. It would be a mistake for Republicans to rush this part of the Senate’s work. However inconsequential it might seem for this nomination, the tradition of holding such hearings before confirmation has come to serve several crucial constitutional purposes,” he writes.
Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett begin Monday — a good thing, after Republicans, in their haste, flirted with the the idea of skipping them. Rush Limbaugh seemed to speak for many Republicans when he raised the idea on his Sept. 22 radio show: “We’ve obviously got the votes, so what’s the point of the hearing?”
There’s a point — more than one.
First and foremost, 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. That is, in turn, a test run for the work of the court itself, which is not merely deciding cases but justifying those decisions with written opinions. The court’s legitimacy rests on the public’s confidence in the quality of judicial analysis and judicial temperament. The Senate hearing is the first opportunity for a new justice to inspire that confidence.