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An Empirical Analysis of the Confirmation Hearings of the Justices of the Rehnquist Natural Court

Constitutional Commentary, Vol. 24, p. 127, 2007

72 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2008  

Jason J. Czarnezki

Pace University - School of Law

William K. Ford

The John Marshall Law School

Lori A. Ringhand

University of Georgia School of Law

Abstract

Despite the high degree of interest generated by Supreme Court confirmation hearings, surprisingly little work has been done comparing the statements made by nominees at their confirmation hearings with their voting behavior once on the Supreme Court. This paper begins to explore this potentially rich area by examining confirmation statements made by nominees regarding three different methods of constitutional interpretation: stare decisis, originalism and the use of legislative history. We also look at nominees' statements about one specific area of law: protection of the rights of criminal defendants. We then compare the nominees' statements to decisions made by the Justices once confirmed. Our results indicate that confirmation hearings statements about a nominee's preferred interpretive methodologies provide very little information about future judicial behavior. Inquiries into specific issue areas - such as the rights of criminal defendants - may be slightly more informative. We emphasize, however, that this study is a preliminary look at this issue. As such, we hope this piece stimulates discussion regarding how to best use the wealth of information provided by confirmation hearings to facilitate a better understanding of the role those hearings do - or could - play in shaping the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court.

Keywords: Constitutional Law, Supreme Court, Confirmations, Confirmation hearings

Suggested Citation

Czarnezki, Jason J. and Ford, William K. and Ringhand, Lori A., An Empirical Analysis of the Confirmation Hearings of the Justices of the Rehnquist Natural Court. Constitutional Commentary, Vol. 24, p. 127, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1086705

Jason Czarnezki

Pace University - School of Law ( email )

78 North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10603
United States

William Ford

The John Marshall Law School ( email )

315 South Plymouth Court
Chicago, IL 60604
United States

Lori Ringhand (Contact Author)

University of Georgia School of Law ( email )

225 Herty Drive
Athens, GA 30602
United States

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