APPLETON, WI (WFRV) – Lawrence University History Professor Emeritus Jerald Podair says Supreme Court nomination hearings aren’t what they used to be, but that America’s justice system remains the envy of the world.
His comments come after the second day of confirmation hearings for Judge Kentanji Brown Jackson who faced tough questions from Republicans who accused her of being soft on crime and easy on offenders in child porn cases.
Nothing was out of bounds. The federal judge was even asked about her religion.
Podair says before the 1980’s the hearings used to be about qualifications only.
“After Robert Bork, it became all political,” Professor Podair told Local 5 News while traveling in California. “Republicans are expected to ask critical questions. As we saw today, sometimes those questions are not even about the law.”
Democrats are still confident they will confirm Judge Jackson by Easter.
Podair says he expects some Republicans to vote for her historic nomination as well as the first African-American woman to serve on the high court.
“Democracy has been compared to making sausage,” Podair added. “The metaphor has been used watching the process. But in the end, the process ends alright.”
Podair says despite the excitement of the history being made, he doesn’t think this will be an opportunity to unify the country.
“I don’t think it will serve that kind of purpose. The country is divided politically. Republicans will not be happy. Democrats will be happy. We’re split right down the middle.”
The professor says back in the 40s and 50s hearings of this nature were perfunctory. That is to say, they were done without minimal effort or reflection. He said you never heard questions that didn’t relate to the law. Nominees weren’t even asked about specific opinions that they had written. It was really a qualifications test.
But he says our judicial system is still the most desired in the world because its integrity is intact. He says it’s one of the most important things for a working democracy.
“She’s going to be confirmed, barring some bombshell we don’t know about. Judge Jackson will be confirmed. The process might not always be pretty. But it will work.”