LatinaLista — By now, everyone knows Judge Sotomayor will be the first Latina Supreme Court justice. The senators cross-examining her have either alluded to that fact or have just come out and admitted it.
Judge Sonia Sotomayor
Yet, even if Sotomayor was not assured to be sworn into office, she has already won widespread admiration and respect for the way she handled herself during questioning that bordered on harassment rather than discovering if she was truly qualified.
Political pundits are saying that the conservative senators who subjected Sotomayor to the most infuriating lines of questioning did so to set benchmarks for President Obama if he should have the opportunity to nominate another Supreme Court Justice.
However, what was clear from these hearings was that senators followed no guidelines in how they asked their questions or what they asked and their intent to “trap” her was so blatantly obvious that it diminished their roles as the public’s voice in determining how and why she was qualified.
This is yet another example of something in Washington that has been done for so long in one way that people accept there is no better way.
From these hearings, we have seen there has to be a better way to determine a potential candidate’s qualifications for the Supreme Court.
1. There should be an equal number of male and female congressional members doing the questioning.
2. There should be a conscious decision to have a balanced committee of conservatives and liberals.
3. All questions should be submitted beforehand to ensure that there is not a repeat of questions nor do they border on harassment but stick to a strict line of questioning that deals with qualifications and experience.
4. Sanction any senator who browbeats a candidate to get the answer they’re looking for or frames a question with the intent of “trapping” an appointee.
5. Forbid senators actively involved in the questioning to go before the media during the confirmation hearings to comment publicly about how they will vote or what they think of the candidate’s answers.
This is only the beginning but it’s a start.