Principles, Politics, and Constitutional Law

The contrast in Senator Thurmond’s performance in hearings concerning Judge Bork, whose nomination he supported, and Justice Marshall, whose nomination he opposed, suggests the apparently cynical view that one’s position on the proper scope of senatorial inquiry during a nomination depends upon one’s position on the merits of the nomination. Much has been written, usually provoked by controversial nominations, about the proper scope of senatorial inquiry. The press of immediate controversy, however, diverts attention from more fundamental issues about the nature of constitutional government, to which I devote this essay.