Before Supreme Court nominees are allowed to take their place on the High Court, they must face a moment of democratic reckoning by appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Despite the potential this holds for public input into the direction of legal change, the hearings are routinely derided as nothing but empty rituals and political grandstanding. In this book, Paul M. Collins and Lori A. Ringhand present a contrarian view that uses both empirical data and stories culled from more than seventy years of transcripts to demonstrate that the hearings are a democratic forum for the discussion and ratification of constitutional change. As such, they are one of the ways in which 'We the People' take ownership of the Constitution by examining the core constitutional values of those permitted to interpret it on our behalf.
Paul M. Collins is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of North Texas. His research focuses on judicial politics, with a particular interest in the democratic nature of the courts. The recipient of numerous research awards, he has published articles in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, the Journal of Politics, Law and Social Inquiry, the Law and Society Review, the Notre Dame Law Review, Political Research Quarterly and other journals. Collins is also the author of Friends of the Supreme Court: Interest Groups and Judicial Decision Making, which received the 2009 C. Herman Pritchett Award from the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association. Lori A. Ringhand is J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law at the University of Georgia School of Law. Her research, which focuses on the Supreme Court confirmation process, has been published in journals such as Constitutional Commentary, the American University Law Review, the William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal and the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law. Ringhand recently was awarded a Congressional Research Grant from The Dirksen Congressional Center to expand her empirical work in this area. She is also the recipient of the 2010 Ronald Ellington Award for Excellence in Teaching.
1. A confirmation process worth celebrating; 2. How it works: the nuts and bolts of the confirmation process; 3. Public opinion and precedent at confirmation hearings; 4. An issue-by-issue look at the hearings; 5. The discussion of precedent at the hearings; 6. Confirmation conditions; 7. The 104th justice; 8. Currently contested constitutional questions; 9. Our Constitution.