Q&A Friday #19: Should Senators Ask Judges About Specific Legal Issues?

Question: “Is it appropriate for Senators to ask judicial nominees their views on specific legal issues and/or is it proper for nominees to answer such questions?

I’ve gone round and round with XRLQ on this one, and would like to see your take, John.” — Spoons

Answer: Traditionally, Senators haven’t asked about specific legal issues, they’ve simply focused on whether the nominee was qualified or not and left it at that. Quite frankly, we’d be better off it were still that way. These ugly, mud slinging contests over judges, that are really about ideology, aren’t doing anyone any good.

That being said, since we have out-of-control, nearly uncheckable, judges with lifetime appointments issuing imperial decrees from the bench and calling it constitutional law, it’s no big surprise that things have descended to this level.

So, would we be better off if the Senate was narrowly focused on qualifications? Yes, but that’s not how it’s working in the real world and we’re just going to have to deal with the fall-out.

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