The Candor Factor: Does Nominee Evasiveness Affect Judiciary Committee Support for Supreme Court Nominees?

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Are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee more likely to vote in favor of Supreme Court nominees who are candid and forthcoming during their confirmation hearings? Based on a line by line content analysis of every hearing transcript since 1955, we find that candor actually plays less of a role today than in years past. Specifically, we conclude that since 1981, when the hearings were first televised, senators have been influenced more by partisanship and ideology than by nominee forthcomingness. Thus, contrary to the claims of many lawmakers, candor does not appear to influence the amount of support that a nominee receives at the pivotal committee stage. We close by discussing the political and normative implications of these findings.

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