January 9, 2006

"Let's pretend—for just a moment—that [the Senators] do care about the answers they receive."

Rachel Larimore and Dahlia Lithwick at Slate ask a few people -- including me -- how the Senators ought to ask questions of Samuel Alito if they actually want to get information from him. And it's not the usual bunch of lawprofs. They asked a 9-year-old boy ("One thing that works well is to act cute and charming"), a psychiatrist, a former customs official, a middle school teacher, and a police detective -- you know, folks who regularly extract information. There's only one lawprof aside from me, an "Ivy League law professor, who requests anonymity" -- which suggests a tagline for me: a state university law professor, who requests fame.


reader_iam said...

Ann, I'm curious, did you find the NYPD detective's answer and suggestions as impressive as I did, once you finished reading the whole thing?

I also found it interesting that at least one journalist's journalist wasn't included. You'd think there'd be one great interviewer around in these times to have participate. I understand the writers were trying to go "outside the box." Still, it did get me to thinking that perhaps there are fewer outstanding interviewers, as such, in the field of journalism than a couple of decades back. Or at least they're not getting the prominence?

Jacques Cuze said...

3. Don't ask about an issue that might come before the court when you know damned well the nominee is just going to say he can't answer the question because it might come before the court.

Where in the world apart from the Supreme Court are you not allowed to change your mind? Where in the world apart from the Supreme Court does answering a question commit you for all time to always answering the question the same way?

What is the history of court nominees having the right to deflect questions that might be brought up before the court?

I think this is a stupid tactic that the senators cowardly let the nominee have. But I understand that it is not in the Senator's interest to oppose it.

Why don't we see the ethical Law Professors and Deans of Law Schools stating that this is nonsensical and opposing it?

Ann Althouse said...

Quxxo: The problem, which Roberts explained very well at his hearings, is that a judge is supposed to decide in the context of a real case, after reading the briefs and listening to the arguments. To decide in the abstract is not judicial, and to tell the parties in advance where you stand, with one side needing to overcome that, isn't appropriate.

kyle said...

The 9 year old has some of the best suggestions. I would love to see a stare down between a senator and Alito.

Oscar Madison said...

I like that tagline every bit as much as "landslide of scorn." You should start collecting them.

Slac said...

Like most kids, the young one was smarter before he was corrupted by school.

The article links him to another when he was six and talking about a batch of hearings during the California recall elections.

The author writes,

I watch the argument with a friend named Max, a first-grader who manages to listen to virtually all of it, with the significant help of a halftime cheese snack. Max observes that while the proceedings are "not exactly boring," it would be better if there were less interruptions. This is astute. Advocates on both sides are infuriatingly unwilling to cede the floor to the judges today, and the result is a good deal of inaudible cross-talk. Max also wonders what would happen to cheese if it got very close to the sun, but this issue is not addressed by the court today.

And he was so curious too.