As the Left gears up with a litany of litmus tests for President Bush’s Supreme Court nominee, an examination of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s confirmation demonstrates that it is appropriate for a nominee not to answer hypothetical questions on specific issues. During her confirmation hearing, Justice Ginsburg refused to answer several questions, preferring instead to rule on the merits of individual cases.
Below are several examples of questions Justice Ginsburg refused to answer:
– Sen. Metzenbaum asked about her opinion on antitrust cases. Justice Ginsburg’s response:
o “Antitrust… is not my strong suit… I can’t give you an answer to your abstract question”
– Sen. Leahy pushed for a position on the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause. Justice Ginsburg’s response:
o “I prefer not to address a question like that… I would prefer to await a particular case…”
– A question was posed by Senator Thurmond regarding to school choice. Justice Ginsburg’s response:
o “That is the kind of question that a judge cannot answer at-large… judges work from the particular case, not from the general proposition… This is the very kind of question that I ruled out.”
– Senator Feinstein asked a question relating to the 2nd Amendment and particularly the so-called “assault weapons ban.” Justice Ginsburg’s response:
o “…all I can tell you is that this is an amendment that has not been looked at by the Supreme Court since 1939… apart from the specific context, I really can’t expound on it. It is an area in which my court has had no business, and one I had no acquaintance as a law teacher.”
– Senator Thurmond asked Justice Ginsburg how she would approach reapportionment plans and apply the Equal Protection Clause. Justice Ginsburg’s response:
o “…this is the very kind of question that would be injudicious for me to address…”
– Senator Cohen asked about her position on sexual orientation laws. Justice Ginsburg’s response:
o “I cannot say one word on that subject that would not violate what I said had to be my rule about no hints, no forecasts, no previews.”
Justice Ginsburg refused to answer several senators’ questions for a number of reasons. She ended up being confirmed by the Senate with a 96-3 vote. The U.S. Senate recognized the temperament and reason for caution on specific issues as being valid and appropriate.