Saturday, March 11, 2006

Confirmation hearing circus

In the March 13th issue of The New Yorker, Janet Malcolm has an essay on the recent confirmation hearings of John Roberts and Samuel Alito. For Supreme court watchers these hearings have become a subject of significant angst. There are suggestions that these proceedings have become such an elaborate but worthless spectacle that they should be scrapped entirely and that confirmations should directly proceed to Senate for a vote.

Janet Malcolm's essay is relatively ho-hum with a somewhat whining tone of partisan indignation. It does not manage to be particualrly illuminating; a bit of a disappointment as I expect greater insight from a practicing psychoanlayst and the writer of the wonderful collection of essays "The Purloined Clinic". However, there are flashes of thought provoking ideas:

An excerpt:
Roberts was much given to affirming his fealty to "the rule of law." He said, "Somebody asked me ... 'Are you going to be on the side of the little guy?' And you obviously want to give an immediate answer, but, as you reflect on it, if the Constitution says that the little guy should win, the little guy is going to win in court before me. But if the Constitution says that the big guy should win, well, then the big guy's going to win, because my obligation is to the Constitution." The cases that are the glory of the Supreme Court history are the cases where the little guy won; the cases that are its shame are those where he lost. The Constitution doesn't say who should win. Nine people do.

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