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Monday, June 28, 2010

A new study of Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings on Supreme Court Nominees

A remarkably timely empirical study purports to examine all the questions and answers given by SCOTUS nominees who appeared before the Judiciary Committee since 1939. The authors are Lori Ringhand (U. Ga. law school) and Paul Collins (U. N.Tex. Political Science).

It was posted on SSRN Friday.  Yesterday's NYT featured it in an article.  Adam Liptak, Study Finds Questioning of Nominees to Be Useful, NY Times (June 27, 2010).

SCOTUS wonks will want to download it ASAP.  The article abstract and the SSRN link after the break.

 

Ringhand, Lori A. and Collins, Paul M., May it Please the Senate: An Empirical Analysis of the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings of Supreme Court Nominees, 1939-2009 (June 25, 2010). UGA Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-12.

Here is the SSRN abstract:

This paper examines the questions asked and answers given by every Supreme Court nominee who has appeared to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee since 1939. In doing so, it uses a new dataset developed by the authors. This database, which provides a much-needed empirical foundation for scholarship in emerging areas of constitutional law and political science, captures all of the statements made at the hearings and codes these comments by issue area, sub-issue area, party of the appointing president, and party of the questioning senator. The dataset allows us to quantify for the fist time such things as which issues are most frequently discussed at the hearings, whether those issues have changed over time, and whether they vary depending on the party of the appointing president and the party of the questioning senator. We also investigate if questioning patterns differ depending on the race or gender of the nominee. Some of our results are unsurprising: for example, the hearings have become longer. Others, however, challenge conventional wisdom: the Bork hearing is less of an outlier in several ways than is frequently assumed, and abortion has not dominated the hearings. We also discover that there is issue area variation over time, and that there are notable disparities in the issues addressed by Democratic versus Republican senators. Finally, we find that female and minority nominees face a significantly different hearing environment than do white male nominees.

 

Ringhand, Lori A. and Collins, Paul M., May it Please the Senate: An Empirical Analysis of the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings of Supreme Court Nominees, 1939-2009 (June 25, 2010). UGA Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-12.

 

Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1630403

 

 

 

Posted by Thomas Baker on June 28, 2010 at 09:01 AM | Permalink

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