Lowry: An exemplary nominee follows precedent

Lowry: An exemplary nominee follows precedent

Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett didn’t provide many answers to questions during this week’s hearings, but that’s not her fault. This is what the U.S. Senate has accepted. Amy Coney Barrett acquitted herself very well at her confirmation hearings, which means, quite often, she refused to answer questions. Barrett is an exemplary nominee, who was knowledgeable, clear and composed throughout the three days of questioning, but not always responsive. She can’t be blamed for this. She played the game as the rules have been established for decades, and played it well. It is to take nothing away from her to wonder whether this long-standing norm of nominees running away from many substantive questions serves the Senate or the country well. The court has taken on an outsize role in our national life, while at the same time nominees say less than ever about their views during the one chance the senators have to vet them publicly. This is a bizarre disconnect. You’d think we’d want to hear more from a prospective member of a body that elections are explicitly fought over and that, for better or (mostly) worse, determines how we are governed. It was the confirmation battle over Robert Bork, of course, that changed everything. As Ilya Shapiro notes in his recent book, “Supreme Disorder,” there were five days of the hearings involving Bork himself, who was highly accomplished but acerbic and uncoachable. The journalist Theodore White famously said upon hearing Barry Goldwater’s unapologetic 1964 convention speech, […]

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