Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Will Senate Follow Ginsburg Precedent?

The last Supreme Court nominee was Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1994. Confirm Them remnds us that the Senate confirmation process for Ginsburg was streamlined.
• Ginsburg’s hearing lasted only 4 days.

• The Judiciary Committe permitted only one panel of witnesses to testify against Ginsburg at the hearing.

• Chairman Joseph Biden established a new practice, effective for “all Supreme Court nominees,” that the Senate Judiciary Committee would review the nominee’s FBI file only in confidential, closed session. The Committee would also question the nominee about the file in confidential session.

• Ginsburg was not required to discuss her legal views on hot-button legal issues, including
- abortion
- civil rights
- gay rights
- gun owners' rights
- rights of the disabled
- school vouchers
- separation of church and state
- free speech.

• Ginsburg was not required to discuss her personal views on legal issues.

• Ginsburg's controversial statements in speeches and law review articles was not considered to disqualify her from serving on the Supreme Court. For example, before her nomination to the Supreme Court, Ginsburg had argued that
- the Constitution may provide a right to engage in prostitution;
- the age of sexual consent should be lowered to 12;
- single-sex prisons should be ended.

• All Senators treated Ginsburg with respect and spoke of her with respect.
Do not bet that Democrats will want to follow the precedents set by the Senate Judiciary Committees last time, when the Democrats were in the majority.

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