Hamilton on SCOTUS Nominations

Worth a read over at the Monkey Cage:  Here’s what Alexander Hamilton can teach senators about Supreme Court nominations.

Take a dive into The Federalist Papers.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. gVOR08 says:

    Typo first line.

    This reliance on the Federalist Papers always bothered me. They do constitute a well written and thorough explication of the Constitution. But they had no legal status and were, in point of fact, campaign literature supporting the campaign to ratify. They would hardly be an even handed treatment of the document.

  2. Mikey says:

    @gVOR08: I think the point is there are a lot of Republicans who place great weight on the Federalist Papers, holding them up as vital background and supporting information for the Framers’ thinking at the time and therefore a great window into their precious “original intent.”

    Until, of course, there’s something in the Federalist Papers that supports a position taken by the Kenyan Usurper. Then they forget Alexander Hamilton even existed.

  3. stonetools says:

    A paradox:The people who praise the Federalist Papers the most tend to be those who really ascribe to the anti-Federalist position.

    In short, Hamilton argues that it would be wrong to assume everyone is bad. He expects that while the Senate will have its share of ambitious partisans, it should also have enough who are virtuous and civic-minded enough to set political considerations aside for the public good. In the case of the confirmation process, this means evaluating the president’s nominations according to the standards of intellectual powers and civic virtue.

    Maybe the present situation is empirical evidence that Hamilton ( and by extension, the founding fathers) were just wrong about this? If the Republicans relent, it’s going to be purely because they fear a worse outcome if the choice moves on to Clinton, NOT because they are being virtuous and civic minded.

  4. al-Ameda says:

    What does this amount to? Surely, as many have already commented, the Senate is within its technical constitutional rights to withhold its vote on Garland. Yet insofar as this is motivated by political considerations, senators are in violation of the spirit of Hamilton, who argued that the entire point of the appointment process was to remove these considerations.

    In other words, Hamilton has nothing to add here, however Republicans want to cite him as a justification for their obstruction of the president’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

  5. bookdragon says:

    I have to admit, when I read the headline, I was hoping it would be about the guy who wrote the Broadway hit ‘Hamilton’ having the title character give this lecture as a rap battle piece.

  6. @stonetools:

    The people who praise the Federalist Papers the most tend to be those who really ascribe to the anti-Federalist position.

    Indeed.

  7. @bookdragon:

    I have to admit, when I read the headline, I was hoping it would be about the guy who wrote the Broadway hit ‘Hamilton’ having the title character give this lecture as a rap battle piece.

    If only.

  8. @gVOR08:

    This reliance on the Federalist Papers always bothered me. They do constitute a well written and thorough explication of the Constitution. But they had no legal status and were, in point of fact, campaign literature supporting the campaign to ratify. They would hardly be an even handed treatment of the document.

    BTW: I am not suggesting that we have to be guided by the FP. Indeed, I think it is useful to go back and look at what the Framers thought would be the way things would work and seeing that that is not how things worked out.

    I do think, as per other comments, that for those who would attempt to make arguments about intent ought to look at that intent if they are serious about their arguments.

    (Thanks for noting the typo).