Today Sen. John Cornyn at NRO, and former solicitor general Theodore Olson in the pages of the Wall Street Journal, offer arguments on the range of permissible questions for Judge Roberts that culminate–whether Cornyn and Olson realize it or not–in the conclusion that we ought not to have hearings on Supreme Court nominees at all. Or at least no hearings at which the nominees themselves appear to answer questions. Olson puts the case succinctly:
The most appropriate response to these questions [about how he views past rulings that might be revisited] is for the nominee to promise an open mind in every case, receptivity to the arguments of counsel, the views of colleagues and due respect for the written text, history, precedent, context and factual setting of a particular matter. And he should promise to render future decisions free from preconceived or pre-expressed opinions as to how a case should be decided. We expect no less from a judge; and that is the only response we should expect to hear during confirmation proceedings. Anything else bargains away future judicial independence.
The New York Times invited five people to frame five questions each for Judge Roberts, and they appear on the Times’s op-ed page today. I like most of them, but Glenn Harlan Reynolds and Ron Klain (yes, Ron Klain) ask the best ones. They make for better reading, I’m afraid, than do Messrs. Cornyn and Olson.