So maybe what we need to start doing during court of appeals confirmation hearings is to ask the following:
Sir or Ma’am, if you ever had the honor of being appointed to the Supreme Court, would you uphold Roe as the settled law of the land, or would you seek to overturn it?
Maybe that kind of question would break all kinds of unwritten Senate rules of decorum. (Or maybe it does get asked, though I would have expected we’d have seen Roberts’ answer by now.) Anyhow, I think this particular question is great because it forces nominees to go on record more clearly about what they’d do in the future – and if they refuse to answer, that’s equally telling.
Or maybe we could just give the nominee five or six cases that could be on the upcoming docket, give them six months to write up their opinion, submit them to NARAL, NOW, and the Democratic conference in the Senate, and if those meet approval, we hold a vote?
Or maybe we could just add a pledge to the SCOTUS oath of office to not overturn Roe or anything else Democrats really cherish? When a case comes before the court, we could poll the Democrats and their base, and then instruct the judges how we want them to vote.
This kind of blockheadedness and beliefs that we are putting political operatives on the court, rather than judges, is as stupid and offensive when it comes from the left as it is when it comes from the fundamentalists on the right. And, in fairness to those on the fundamentalist right, even they aren’t demanding certainty on Roberts position regarding Rove. The activist base of the Democrats are the only ones demanding not just answers to questions, but SPECIFIC answers to SPECIFIC questions. Questions that should not be asked, and answers they know will not nor should not be provided.
Chairman Joseph Biden established a new practice, effective for “all Supreme Court nominees,” that the Senate Judiciary Committee would review the nominee’s FBI file only in confidential, closed session. Chairman Joseph Biden, Ginsburg Hrg. 116 (July 20, 1993). The Committee would also question the nominee about the file in confidential session, no matter how “serious” the subject. Chairman Joseph Biden, Ginsburg Hrg. 369 (July 23, 1993).
Ginsburg was not required to discuss her legal views on a host of issues, including:
Civil rights laws
Rights of the disabled
Separation of church and state
Rights of Indian tribes
Ginsburg was not required to discuss her personal views on issues such as the death penalty.
I don’t think anyone should skate through the process, or is entitled to a life term, but you just don’t want to start this nonsense. Both parties should be allowed to examine his record and ask their questions. If there is anything in his record that gives a reason he should not be confirmed, fine. But you don’t get to play political games, and neither side gets to grill the nominee on ‘how he might decide’ issues that may in the future face the court. That is a recipe for disaster.