No Hints, No Forecasts, No Previews: Analyzing Supreme Court Nominee Evasiveness, 1955-2009
50 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2010
Date Written: June 22, 2010
Criticism of Supreme Court confirmation hearings has intensified considerably over the past two decades. In particular, there is a growing sense that nominees are now less forthcoming and that the hearings have suffered as a result. In this paper, we challenge that conventional wisdom. Based on a comprehensive content analysis of every question and answer in all of the modern confirmation hearings, we find only a mild decline in the candor of recent nominees. Moreover, we find that senators ask more probing questions than in the past, and that nominees are now more explicit when they refuse to respond – two factors that may be fueling the perception that evasiveness has increased in recent years. We close with a discussion of the normative implications of our findings as well as an outline for future research.
Keywords: supreme court, confirmation hearings, supreme court nominees, supreme court justices, judiciary committee, content analysis
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