How Supreme Court Confirmations Became Political Theater | NYT News
is raise your right hand Supreme Court confirmation hearings this is day two you’re probably all familiar with basically you just said bigly Borg dominate the headlines & Airwaves this is how they used to be yeah they’re actually weren’t any so how do we get from here to here we’ll start in 1937 but former Senator Hugo Black who is being congratulated that’s because he’s just been confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice he’s also been touted as a former member of the Ku Klux Klan so to explain himself he gets on the radio I never rejoin people are not happy they’re basically asking how could the Senate Judiciary Committee let this guy through answer since the first hearing back in 1873 for this guy standard ways of holding hearings for Supreme Court nominees they didn’t have to go and testify in the hearings didn’t need to be made public defenders review the nominees among themselves but then came a couple of amendments of the Constitution the upshot is voting power to the people needed to start paying more attention to public opinion and they’re paying attention when blacks controversial confirmation drives Americans to ask why these hearings private it’s a big reason why the next nominee get the public hearing and it’s not just a public hearing it’s the 1st that includes no-holds-barred questioning by the committee things are beginning to change then World War II comes and goes America a superpower business boom suburbs grow the beginning of the modern civil rights are in 1954 the court rules to end racial segregation in schools and this marks a point where we really start to see the car using its power to shape parts of American society that means Americans take a greater interest in who’s on the court that means even more pressure on Senators to bet these candidates starting with the first nominee after the brown decision almost every Germany will have a public hearing now changes in full swing I have a dream the march from Selma The Feminine Mystique the court keeps making controversial ruling on Race discrimination gender discrimination personal private that means more public interests more pressure on Senators more issues so the hearings get longer but just wait 1981 game changer Sandra O’Connor first woman nominated to the Supreme Court first nomination hearing to be televised the longer the more the more so the more they talk with the cameras rolling will see 10 of the 12 longest hearings ever one of those is for Robert Bork recommendation of nine-to-five who famously doesn’t make the cut now on to the office there’s an 11 year gap between nominees meanwhile America has become more politically divided the next I mean you look at two of my colleagues Justice Scalia and Justice Ginsburg for example maybe there were two or three dissenting votes between the two of them 1986 now you look at my more recent colleagues and the votes were I think strictly on party lines that’s pretty much right that doesn’t make any sense and that’s how we got here it’s back to quill pens very long also something else to notice sometimes these nominees under the constitution in various ways Constitution variety places in the Constitution protected by the Fourth Amendment 4th amendment certainly speaks to the right of privacy in the Fourth AmendmentConfirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominees didn’t always exist. But the 19th Amendment, school desegregation and television all contributed to major changes in the process.
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