Justice Ginsburg declined to answer questions about her views on both prospective and many historical Supreme Court cases. She also declined to answer questions (or gave non-responsive answers to questions) involving a number of controversial issues, hypothetical facts, or areas in which she is not an expert.
Justice Ginsburg’s hearings demonstrate that there are many valid reasons why a judicial nominee may decline to answer the questions posed by individual senators. Justice Ginsburg declined to answer, or gave only generalized answers, to a vast number of the questions she was asked during her confirmation hearings. Despite this, Justice Ginsburg was confirmed by a vote of 96-3, which suggests that the Senate recognized her reasons for caution as valid and appropriate. In light of this precedent, the Senate and current judicial nominees should carefully apply those same reasons for caution (discussed above) to establish a common understanding of the rules for a confirmation hearing. This understanding will help in avoiding much of the delay and conflict that has become part of the confirmation process.