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Toward better Supreme Court hearings

Right now, Supreme Court nomination hearings are a rare moment for lots of senators to talk while lots of reporters are paying attention. That devolves, quite predictably, into a lot of people trying to get on TV rather than trying to have an informative conversation about matters likely to come before the court. Jonathan Bernstein has a good idea for improving the ritual:

A better way of conducting these things would be to pick two Senators from each party as lead questioners. As a blogger, and as a live tweeter of the proceedings, I obviously have a personal preference for Senators Sessions and Coburn because they're easiest to play off of, but if we want relatively informative hearings, I'd nominate Hatch and Graham from the GOP, and Schumer and Cardin from the Dems. ... Others who I think would be up to it on the Dem side would be Feinstein and Durbin, and I think the junior Senators on the committee -- Whitehouse, Klobuchar, Kaufman, and Franken -- are all very capable. It's a bit hard to tell with the Senators at the end of the line, because all the best questions have already been asked, but Kaufman and Klobuchar, I thought, did quite well.

I'd pick Orrin Hatch and Lindsey Graham for the Republicans, and Sheldon Whitehouse and Dick Durbin for the Democrats.

By Ezra Klein  |  July 1, 2010; 2:37 PM ET
 
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Comments

It does not matter who asks the questions. The problem is that there are only so many salient questions to be asked, and they end up spread thin among endless hours of egotistical speeches and preening for the cameras.

Limit the committee's time with the nominee to one day, and make the hearing more of a brisk exchange over the few questions of actual importance to the supporters and the opponents of the nominee, rather than the current multi-day ritualized performance art by the mostly tiresome droning Senators.

Make the grilling of a SOTUS nominee as fast-paced (and as mercifully brief) as most oral arguments in the Court itself.

Posted by: Patrick_M | July 1, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

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