My question is: Does it help or hinder to answer questions with hostility during United States Supreme Court Senate confirmation hearings?

There are many examples in real life where a senate asks inane or insulting questions of a candidate, all of them so controversial that it would be hard to not express my opinion so I will give a fictitious example so that the focus is the actual question.


Back in the day there was a Supreme Court decision that stated that checkered pants worn with striped shirts was a protected right according to the US constitution. Since then every time a Supreme Court nominee is brought before the Senate, their support of striped shirts is questioned vehemently. Today the nominee is asked: I don't think I have seen you or any of your family ever wear striped shirts, and I have proof here that you wrote that checkered pants do not go with your complexion since you are a winter. This puts us in the difficult position that you will be a no vote on this case. Is that how you would vote?

The classy answer is: I will respect Supreme Court precedent and will rule impartially in all my cases.

The answer I would give is: Pictures? Who takes pictures of their entire life? This is just a question to win political points and has nothing to do with my judicial credentials. I'm not answering this highly unlikely scenario.

Does anyone know of real life examples where a hostile answer was given and confirmation was rescinded because of this?

  • 1
    Define "nothing bad happened". That nobody thought "I don't much care for that" doesn't sound like a reasonable expectation. Whereas "he wasn't shot in the face right there" would be too easy to satisfy. – zibadawa timmy Jul 4 '18 at 13:59
  • @zibadawa I edited to what I mean by bad, the confirmation was not given – Frank Cedeno Jul 4 '18 at 14:29
  • Bork?............ – user4012 Jul 4 '18 at 14:33
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    @agc not a typo, probably a bad joke referring to the fashion style of spring, summer, fall, winter such as someone who looks good in whites, greys and blacks is a winter. Orange browns and yellows is a fall. – Frank Cedeno Jul 4 '18 at 15:52

I went through the wikipedia list of the unsuccessful Supreme Court nominees. I could find no instances where being rude or snappy in confirmation hearings resulted in a withdrawn or rejected nomination. Typically Supreme Court nominees are very circumspect in their replies, especially if they know their nomination is likely to be controversial.

  • Yeah--it's possible it has happened, especially if we open it up to the wider world of judicial and executive appointees, but I was unable to find specific examples. – Eremi Jul 5 '18 at 15:16
  • If I recall, Justice Goursch was quite snippy at times with his answers. Justice Kagan famously quipped that she was doing what all good Jews do on Christmas Day: Eating Chinese Food, when asked about her whereabouts on a particular Christmas (I have no idea why, I just remembered the response.). – hszmv Jul 9 '18 at 20:10

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