Relentless Pursuit of Wisdom and Liberty

The weblog companion of, dedicated to pondering, "If Patrick Henry could see us now..."

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

SCOTUS litmus tests, circa 1993

Byron York, writing on NRO's Corner, points out something interesting to keep in mind when Senators (of either party) start talking about applying litmus tests to SCOTUS nominees: that as recently as 1993 during Ginsburg's confirmation, it was SOP that it just didn't happen.

Republicans also chose not to oppose Ginsburg even though she refused to answer dozens of questions during her confirmation hearings. Among others, she declined to give her views on Roe v. Wade, on the Second Amendment, on the death penalty, on the Voting Rights Act, on race-based congressional redistricting, and on adoption rights for gay couples, among many other issues. At one point in her hearings, Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond told her, "In preparing these questions or any others I may propound during the hearings, if you feel they are inappropriate to answer, will you speak out and say so." On another occasion, Thurmond said, "I will not press you to answer any that you feel are inappropriate."

The Democrats agreed:

Then-chairman Sen. Joseph Biden told Ginsburg, "You not only have a right to choose what you will answer and not answer, but in my view you should not answer a question of what your view will be on an issue that clearly is going to come before the court in 50 forms probably, over your tenure on the court."
Let's hope today's Senators (again, of both parties) keep that in mind this summer, and focus their deliberations on a nominee's relationship to the law and their willingness to apply it faithfully regardless of personal views and preferences, rather than on those views and preferences themselves.


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