"Confirmation hearings statements about a nominee's preferred interpretive methodologies provide very little information about future judicial behavior," according to a recently published analysis.
In "An Empirical Analysis of the Confirmation Hearings of the Justices of the Rehnquist Natural Court," Jason J. Czarnezki, William K. Ford, and Lori A. Ringhand examined statements made by Supreme Court nominees regarding three different methods of constitutional interpretation and their subsequent behavior.
Confirmation hearings are . . . a strategic environment where Senators ask certain questions to please constituents and nominees answer questions to land a job. The nominees’ incentives, therefore, are almost certainly to provide as little information as possible. Moreover, even genuinely held interpretive preferences may make very little difference in directing results in actual cases. Our point, then, is not to generate astonishment at the lack of correlation between nomination statements and judicial performance, but to stimulate thinking on how the confirmation hearings could be better structured to provide more reliable predictors of judicial performance if, indeed, such predictors are a desirable or feasible way of increasing judicial accountability.
Seth Rosenthal argued for litigator-led questioning of Supreme Court nominees in this issue brief released by ACS last September.
(H/T Legal Theory Blog)