I think everyone (except a current nominee) agrees that the American people deserve to know the inclinations of a person nominated to the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, as Elena Kagan's hearings demonstrate, no Senator who shares a party with the President is willing to vote down a nominee for being evasive. This abdication of Constitutional responsibility is especially bad when the Senate majority is held by the party of the President, whether Republican or Democrat. It's especially ironic that the present nominee herself described this Constitutional failure by the modern Senate eloquently in 1995:
Early in the day, Kagan disavowed her article on the vacuous confirmation process. "I did have the balance a little bit off," she said. "I skewed it too much toward saying that answering is appropriate."
Kohl wasn't buying that. "Back in that 1995 article, you wrote that one of the most important inquiries for any nominee . . . is to, quote, 'inquire as to the direction in which he or she would move the institution.' In what direction would you move the court?"
"All I can say," Kagan replied, "is that I will try to decide each case that comes before me as fairly and objectively as I can."
"But you, in 1995, 'It is a fair question to ask a nominee in what direction' -- this is your quote -- 'would you move the court?' " "Well, it might be a fair question," Kagan pointed out.
"All right, let's move on," the defeated interrogator said. "Can you tell us the names of a few current justices . . . with whom you most identify?"
"I think it would be just a bad idea for me to talk about current justices," she answered.
"My oh my oh my," Kohl marveled.
Democrats were amused by her newfound reticence; Republicans seethed. ...
Graham, who teased from Kagan the all-important Chinese-restaurant-on-Christmas answer, asked her to "go back in time" to the days when she criticized the confirmation process. Asked Graham: "Are we improving or going backward?"
"You've been exercising your constitutional responsibilities extremely well," she replied.
"So it's all those other guys that suck, not us," Graham said.
The solution is simple given Senators' expertise at protecting their hallowed conventions, like faux filibusters and "secret holds": how about a convention to vote down evasive nominees even if they're nominated by your own party?
I won't hold my breath.