|10 Questions For a Supreme Court Nominee
Posted 05/27/2009 ET
Updated 05/27/2009 ET
1. Many legal experts say that the nominations process is a wholly political question and not a question that would ever come before the Supreme Court. Would you agree that a U.S. senator can vote for or against a nominee to the Supreme Court for any reason?
2. Nominees frequently come before the Senate Judiciary Committee and treat the committee questioning of a nominee as a test of how much the nominee knows about the Constitution and Supreme Court precedent. Would you agree that the nomination process should be more than the functional equivalent of a pass fail examination on constitutional law?
3. If a nominee refuses to answer the Senate’s questions about nominee’s philosophy, ideology, and record, then a U.S. senator has little basis to understand whether a nominee will be appropriate for a lifetime appointment to the bench. Do you agree that a senator should vote “nay” on any nominee who, outside of narrow legitimate legal ethics bases, refuses to answer questions about the nominee’s philosophy, ideology and record?
4. Some lawyers believe that the Constitution is a living document, which grows to recognize “new rights,” and others believe that the Constitution should be interpreted according to its plain words and original meaning. Do you believe that the Constitution is “living,” and if so, how should a judge determine what new rights to create, and what laws passed by the people must be cast aside?
5. If you believe that a case presents a close question where a substantial potential right is at stake, should a judge error on the side of recognizing the right, or allow the democratic process to decide the question, even if that means that the exercise of the disputed “right” is forbidden?
6. Do you believe that beyond the plain text of the Constitution, that there are “emanations” and “penumbras” which contain unwritten and previously unknown provisions that remove issues from democratic determination, and which therefore may be used to strike down popularly enacted state or federal laws?
7. Nominees come before this committee and cite case law without addressing the core of questions, so please don’t site any case law precedent when answering the following question, but merely cite the words of the Constitution and the writings of our Founding Fathers. Do you believe that the Second Amendment to the Constitution provides a citizen the right to keep and bear arms?
8. Some on the left believe that judges should look outside the borders of the United States for legal authority to decide cases, even though many countries do not have a Constitutional democracy and no other has the unique and robust individual liberty protections provided in the United States Constitution. Do you believe that judges should rely on international law to interpret the U.S. Constitution? And furthermore, should courts look to international standards in cases determining whether the death penalty is “cruel and unusual punishment” under the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, as the Supreme Court has done in recent cases?
9. The President’s has argued that a judge should bring to bear his or her personal experience in judging cases. Do you agree that personal experiences should be a factor, and if so, how can a judge claim to be impartial if using the subjective and unique experiences of a judge as a factor in deciding cases involving the interpretation of the Constitution?
10. Anybody who has been through a job interview gets the inevitable question, why do you want this job? The American people are very skeptical of Washington, D.C., and the trust level between the American people and the federal government is low. I believe that the American people do not want a nominee to be on the court if that nominee has an agenda and if that nominee wants to impose some laundry list of liberal items on the American people -- like gay marriage. I think it is very important to know the motivation for a nominee and why a nominee wants to be on the highest court of the land, so let me simply ask you. Why do you want to be on the Supreme Court?