I listened to the first day of Senate confirmation hearings today for SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Today was just the opening statements by all the members of the Judiciary Committee, and nothing that was said was unexpected: Democrats repeated their complaints about the hypocracy of rushing this confirmation process after blocking Obama's nomination in the last year of his term, and decried that the GOP is trying to get her on the bench so she can be the deciding vote in an upcoming challenge to the Affordable Care Act; while Republicans pointed out that it's their duty and right to confirm a nominee, and Barrett is a highly qualified judge.
There are three more days of committee hearings, and then there's going to be a vote in the full Senate, which I think will also allow Senators to make speeches. It all seems like an incredible waste of time. Everyone knows each party's arguments, and her confirmation is pretty much a foregone conclusion. The votes will be mostly along party lines -- only two GOP Senators have raised any objections to proceeding with the process, and that's not enough to swing the vote. It was similar during the Kavanaugh confirmation, and he was a much more controversial nominee, as well as the Trump impeachment hearings. US politics is incredibly polarized, there's almost no hope of convincing the opposition to change their mind about something (Lindsey Graham admitted as much during his opening remarks). And a Supreme Court nomination is not like a bill that allows amendments and negotiation -- she's either in or out (even if there were some back room deals where Senators changed their votes in exchange for concessions on some other measures, there would be no way to enforce it).
So is there any point to this other than for all the committee members to put on a show for their constituents? Is the process perverted because the hearings are public?
I realize there's always going to be some grandstanding when politicians are speaking in public. The question is whether there's anything substantive to the process as well, or is it all just for show? Am I being totally naive in expecting them to use some of this process for substantive inquiry?
I wasn't listening to the hearing much on October 14, but I heard on the news that there were some actual substantive questions about judicial philosophy that day. But there was also the usual dance of Democrats trying to get Barrett to admit how she would vote on likely challenges to ObamaCare (coming up next month) and Roe v. Wade (they come up regularly), and her defly refusing to answer hypotheticals like every other SCOTUS nominee has done in the past.