The Confirmation Mess: Cleaning Up the Federal Appointments Process

The Confirmation Mess: Cleaning Up the Federal Appointments Process

The Confirmation Mess: Cleaning Up the Federal Appointments Process

The Confirmation Mess: Cleaning Up the Federal Appointments Process

Synopsis

Stephen L. Carter tells what's wrong with our confirmation process, explains how it got that way, and suggests what we can do to fix it. Using the most recent confirmation battles as examples, Carter argues that our confirmation process will continue to be bloody until we develop a more balanced attitude toward public service and the Supreme Court by coming to recognize that human beings have flaws, commit sins, and can be redeemed.

Excerpt

Just about everybody I told I was writing a book that would criticize the confirmation-time treatment of both Robert Bork and Lani Guinier had one of two reactions: "What are you defending him for?" or "What are you defending her for?" But those reactions are the reason for the book: we have reached in our confirmation processes a strange pass at which, once we decide to oppose a nominee, any argument will do. Nobody is interested in playing by a fair set of rules that supersede the cause of the moment; still less do many people seem to care how much right and left have come to resemble each other in the gleeful and reckless distortions that characterize the efforts to defeat challenged nominations. All that seems to matter is the end result: if the demonized nominee loses, all that has gone before is justified. Activists working against a nomination can say just about anything, and the news media will report it (as allegation, to be sure, not as fact), only worrying later about whether it was true.

This book is, first of all, about decency. It is about honesty. About why both are important in our choice of public servants and how we can bring them back. It is about the dif-

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