Supreme Court nominees evade giving direct answers to statutory performance and other legal issues (Stolberg). This has been a common criticism that Supreme Court nominees stand before qualifying the level. Senators from both sides of the authority either keep such parties or devise propaganda aiming to reduce their votes and chances of qualification. Conversely, the nominees have developed a variety of evasive techniques to these criticisms, and so open varied diverging responses.
The Supreme Court (SC)
In the US, this is the highest judicial body, which leads the federal judiciary. It comprises of the chief justice of the US and 8 associate justices nominated by the president and confirmed by the senate. Once appointed, they enjoy life tenure, which may only be terminated through death, retirement, or resignation.
Criticism of Supreme Court nominees
SC nominees have always been condemned because of their previous statements and evasiveness of issues. Democrats and republicans have their own tactics to advance viewpoints to qualify nominees. The fitness of the candidate to deliver in the system is scrutinized, often based on responses to legal and statutory interpretations.
Senate republicans reject the ratification of Kagan to the bench, analyzing her dedication to upholding the constitution and whether her countenance would prejudice decisions. They question whether she would be controlled by, or run the constitution. Some argued that she does not satisfy the high standards of the station and did not take liberal commitment to the set laws.
She has on no account been an arbitrator and thus has no relevant experience in the field. Consequently, she may continue the list of judges who craft their own laws rather than interpreting the outlined principles. She also provides lukewarm support for some amendments and her tactics which tend towards the Clinton administration (Bacon).
Fortunately for Kagan, the political situation has not been as active because the oil spill and the Afghanistan war have eclipsed her nomination. Previous nominees underwent more detailed analysis. Preceding candidates have been criticized for issues such as their lack of understanding or short-time service in order occupations (Rutkus).
For example, Clarence Thomas had only served as a judge for less than a year neither was she involved in legal writings. Some groups did not support his stance on affirmative action, believing his decisions would be biased on faith. Other nominees have received criticism for their deeply held religious affiliations.
Concern to Senators
The determination of senators to aid the general welfare of the American people would be constrained if justice may be biased. Senators thus focus their issues mainly on the credentials of the nominee understanding the law. Some of the values that these nominees hold may influence their opinions on the bench (Bacon). Some democrats, however, support her, stating that she is an ardent follower of the constitution.
There are senators who vote in nominees based on their proximity to the senator’s constituents. When these nominees are not adequately qualified or reasonably distant, then the senators may make decisions, hugely depending on the current political situation or the views of the president.
Others are undecided on how they should vote, thus this questioning is necessary to make reasonable decisions based on the credibility of the nominee (Rutkus). The questions provide facts on how well the nominee understands the structure and judicial roles, credentials and reputation. They discover how the nominee, if appointed, would upset the stability of the court. Other senators take that opportunity to ask questions which would lead public awareness to concerns in the society or to identify themselves with the issues.
Evasiveness by nominees
When Hatch questioned Kagan about the ban on abortion she gave distant responses, which left the republican troubled. SC nominees have traditionally evaded responses to specific questions so that they may not take sides or expose their flaws (Bacon). On abortion, she said the court prioritized the health of the mother.
Kagan, who has both worked with Barrack and Clinton, evaded giving an answer to a republican who questioned her viewpoint on whether the system had favored some institutions in contemporary declarations. She said she did not embody the present court and hoped that one day she would join it, amidst laughter and characterization ‘a real politician’ (Mozgovaya).
Nominees may avoid some questions which may eventually occur later in their court rulings. A response may expose their perspective on delicate issues and thus the inequality on decision making may be noted. Some senators who may have otherwise to vote on the nominee’s favor may be displeased by some of their responses, and thus affect their chances of nomination in jeopardy. Alito and Ginsburg, for example, evaded some question, citing that they may appear in the court at some later date (Rutkus).
Nominees’ responses to criticisms and their opinions
Most of the opinions held by the nominees are neutral, usually to prevent further evaluation. Kagan, for example, answered critics by stating that though she admires what Aharon Barak did for Israel, she would not necessarily follow his style of judicial activism.
She says that she is more engrossed in politics than legal precedent, promising that her judgment would be based solely on the constitution (Mozgovaya). Responding to republican critics, she added that her governing would be, must be, and have to be different from decision making. Asked whether she would support the president’s agenda, she said it was not her idea of the job.
Roberts, who was criticized for his faithful personal beliefs, said his faith would not influence decision making; further adding that he would look at the law, and not religious texts in making rulings (Rutkus). He declined to endorse the statement of a former president who considered the severance of the state and the church to be unconditional.
The most valid approach
A wide range of candidates are first considered before the president settles on a nominee. The nominee is considered by a committee before going to the full senate, for evaluation. The senators are each given time to challenge the nominee on radical issues. One of the consistent issues in the senate has been the choice of questions for nominees appearing before the committee.
Whether to ask, and how detailed the questions should be regarding their personal opinions on legal and legal issues is debatable (Rutkus). My most logical approach would be considering their substantive stance on topics rather than their actual credentials or private principles. It is not compulsory to force nominees to give responses for every questions asked, as some responses may undermine the integrity of the judiciary.
Nominees must be subjected to some criticism in an effort to resolve their take on public issues. Some of their responses may be seen as prejudging a case, based on their current beliefs, as such topics may be presented as cases in the future. A nominee without any judicial experience subjection to legal issues is essential, to determine whether they are capable of making decisions based on the law, or they would exercise their personal beliefs.
Bacon, Perry. Senators query Supreme Court nominee Kagan. The Washington Post, May 12, 2010. Web. Retrieved on August 5, 2010 from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/12/AR2010051200332.html
Mozgovaya, Natasha. U.S. supreme court nominee Elana Kagan: Israel means a lot to me.
Haaretz.com. June 29, 2010. Web. Retrieved on August 5, 2010, from
Stolberg, Sheryl. committee approves Kagan’s nomination to Supreme Court. The New York Times, July 20, 2010. Web. Retrieved August 5, 2010 from
Rutkus, Denis. Questioning Supreme Court Nominees about Their Views on Legal or Constitutional Issues: A Recurring Issue. Congressional Research Service. June 23, 2010.
Web. Retrieved on August 5, 2010 from http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R41300.pdf