University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Subject Listing - Geography/Political Science
Advisor: Dr. George LaNoue
Thursday, Poster Session 2, Presentation Kiosk 26 B, Health & Fitness Center
SUPREME COURT NOMINATION HEARINGS: AN ANALYSIS OF JUSTICES` RESPONSES TO CONTROVERSIAL QUESTIONS
The purpose of this thesis was to determine whether Supreme Court justices are being rightfully criticized for not answering questions during their nomination hearings. Do Supreme Court nominees refuse to answer certain questions on specific topics, or will a question be answered dependent upon the individual nominee and his or her preference? If the latter was true, then certain justices would be deserving of criticism for not answering questions. If the former was true, then the committee should re-evaluate the types of questions it asks, and be careful to avoid topics that require the nominee to pre-judge an issue. To answer my question, I read various nomination hearings from some of the most recent justices to the court. My analysis was quantitative. Every outright refusal was scored a "0." Every indirect refusal was scored a "1." Every complete answer was scored a "2." I focused on five categories: abortion; capital punishment; separation of church and state; separation of powers; and affirmative action and civil rights. The results provided some enlightening truths about the nomination hearing process. The percentage of questions answered varied from justice to justice as well as from category to category. Across the board, however, all justices refused to answer a substantial amount of questions.
Advisor: Dr. George LaNoue, Professor of Public Law and Civil Rights, Political Science, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD