Prof. Ifill Discusses Court Nomination Process on MSNBC
Professor Sherrilyn Ifill, a nationally recognized expert in the importance of judicial diversity and impartiality in judicial decision-making, appeared on MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell on April 20 to discuss the nomination and confirmation process for a replacement for the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.
"The confirmation process in many ways is broken. Iím writing a book about race and the confirmation process, and have been reading every confirmation hearing since 1955, the year after Brown vs. Board of Education was decided. What you see is a striking similarity not only in the questions, but in the answers. These hearings have now become a form of theater," said Professor Ifill.
"The Judiciary Committee has to try to find a way to be more responsive to the U.S. public and the trust they have to find out where these candidates stand. They need to ask questions that are not just about affirmative action and about abortion, but to ask questions that will really get at whether these candidates are capable of being independent, and whether these candidates have demonstrated in the past their willingness to go against the grain when itís required by the rule of law."
Prof. Ifill has written in the past that the Supreme Court should not be comprised exclusively of former federal court judges, but also include people with broader backgrounds, including state court judges, full-time law professors, former criminal defense attorneys, even civil practice trial lawyers.
Professor Ifill is also prominent in the areas of civil rights and voting rights. She has written about the history of racial violence and contemporary reconciliation efforts. Her book about truth and reconciliation commissions for lynching, On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century, was released by Beacon Books in 2007.