Supreme court confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate: Reconsidering the charade

Dion Farganis, Justin Wedeking

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Critics claim that Supreme Court nominees have become more evasive in recent decades and that Senate confirmation hearings lack real substance. Conducting a line-by-line analysis of the confirmation hearing of every nominee since 1955an original dataset of nearly 11,000 questions and answers from testimony before the Senate Judiciary CommitteeDion Farganis and Justin Wedeking discover that nominees are far more forthcoming than generally assumed. Applying an original scoring system to assess each nominees testimony based on the same criteria, they show that some of the earliest nominees were actually less willing to answer questions than their contemporary counterparts. Factors such as changes in the political culture of Congress and the 1981 introduction of televised coverage of the hearings have created the impression that nominee candor is in decline. Further, senators votes are driven more by party and ideology than by a nominees responsiveness to their questions. Moreover, changes in the confirmation process intersect with increasing levels of party polarization as well as constituents more informed awareness and opinions of recent Supreme Court nominees.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages162
ISBN (Electronic)9780472120277
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© by the University of Michigan 2014. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities


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