From the 2010 News Archive
Prof. Stearns Urges Changes to High Court Confirmation Process
In a May 3 op-ed in The Baltimore Sun
, Professor of Law and Marbury Research Professor Max Stearns
proposes a more forthright confirmation process for the replacement of Supreme Court judges. Rather than "Judiciary Committee members reading worn-out scripts aimed at placating the party base and nominees giving well-rehearsed yet vacuous responses aimed at avoiding controversy," Professor Stearns calls for "thoughtful, probing questions that the nominees actually answer."
"A candid process would show that in the course of constitutional lawmaking, reasonable minds — and thus, reasonable jurists — can differ in the premises and analyses that they use in resolving hard cases. Jurists can hold differing views concerning the role (and even the possibility) of original understanding, the value of precedent, how constitutional structure informs constitutional meaning, and the extent to which considerations of history — and yes, policy — prove relevant after other considerations have been exhausted," Professor Stearns wrote.
"These are fundamental questions in a deliberative democracy, and ones that a meaningful, and teachable, confirmation hearing would explore. Such a process would provide the basis for real insight into the men and women who ascend our nation's highest court."
Professor Stearns has written a book about how collective decision-making processes shape doctrines and case outcomes in the United States Supreme Court, Constitutional Process: A Social Choice Analysis of Supreme Court Decision Making
(University of Michigan Press, paperback edition 2002). His most recent book, Public Choice Concepts and Applications in Law
(West Publishing), co-authored with George Mason University Foundation Professor Todd J. Zywicki, is the only book specifically designed to instruct law students and students in related disciplines in the methodological tools of public choice, including interest group theory, social choice theory, and elementary game theory, along with basic price theory, and to apply these tools to wide-ranging topics in both public and private law and to various lawmaking institutions.
A prominent interdisciplinary scholar known for his application of novel methodologies to study a wide range of doctrines in public law, with a particular emphasis on judicial decision-making processes and structural constitutional law, Professor Stearns’s work is widely published in several leading academic journals, including the Yale Law Journal
, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review
, the California Law Review
, the Stanford Law Review
, and the Vanderbilt Law Review
. View Professor Stearns’s leading works here
Posted by Carrie Oleynik on May 3, 2010.