UPDATED: Useful Questions III

by TChris

Earlier posts (here and here) have suggested questions that could usefully be posed to John Roberts at his confirmation hearing. Continuing in that vein, Vikram David Amar suggests that senators ask Roberts to analyze the Supreme Court's rulings in five "blockbuster" cases that were decided by 5-4 majorities.

Amar refutes the notion that a judicial nominee shouldn't be asked about legal issues if those issues might again come before the court:

This is nonsense. Of course the nominee should not make, or be asked to make, promises about future rulings. But the disclosure of specific views about past cases does not commit the judge to rule in any particular way in the future. He remains free to change his mind if he is persuaded by sound legal arguments, the same way sitting justices are free to do so.

Asking the nominee to critique past cases is as legitimate as asking a job candidate to imagine how he or she would have handled situations that faced employees in the past. After all, a justice's job is to decide and explain cases, while a nominee's job is to give senators information about the kind of justice he will most likely be. The nominee's candid assessments of previous decisions are similar in kind to the written opinions, dissents, law review articles and speeches from which a sitting justice's record can be examined, and that is exactly the sort of material the Senate needs in order to make a fair and well-informed decision.

Update (TL): Eric Muller at Is That Legal has a question for Roberts.

Second update:
Another question for Roberts: Do you really believe the constitutional right to habeas corpus makes "a mockery of the entire criminal justice system"?

One issue Roberts focused on [when he served in the Justice Department during the Reagan administration] was appeals by prisoners, who in the 1980s had several avenues of challenging their sentences in both state and federal courts. Since then, courts generally have limited prisoners' options, with justices this past term clashing over how closely they should scrutinize death penalty sentences by state courts.

The availability of federal court appeals, "particularly for state prisoners, goes far to making a mockery of the entire criminal justice system," Roberts wrote in a Nov. 12, 1981, memorandum, decrying the endless appeals that "obscures the rare serious claim."

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    Re: UPDATED: Useful Questions III (none / 0) (#1)
    by scarshapedstar on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:41 PM EST
    Do we really need any more corporate whores in the federal government?