Carol Platt Liebau: The Importance of Demeanor

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Importance of Demeanor

Since advice on or about the next Supreme Court nominee is flowing, fast and furious, around the blogosophere, just thought I'd put in my two cents.

As much as I'd love to believe that 23 Democrats have suddenly subscribed to the belief that ideology shouldn't be a factor in Supreme Court nominations, I don't think that's what's going on. In fact, a big reason that Chief Justice Roberts garnered as many votes as he did was because he gave Democrats -- who would have loved to vote against him -- no excuse to do so.

He is certainly brilliant, as I noted here last night. But if he had come across as being arrogant or combative (which would have been likely to reduce the healthy support among the public that he enjoyed), many Democrats (including some who voted for him) would have been all too delighted to vote "no" and thereby keep the left wing interest groups happy.

It is a sad fact that -- along with being a strict constructionist and a person of integrity -- the nominee also has to come across well on television. Any demeanor issues will be used by the Democrats, not only as an excuse for opposition, but in an effort to undermine the popularity and the credibility of the principles the nominee espouses.


Blogger HouseOfSin said...

I'd agree on the fact, but disagree that it's bad news.

In any courtroom, how one presents one's side is often as important as the substance of the argument. I disagree that "demeanor" is an irrelevant factor when court cases arise.

The fact that Roberts came off so smoothly and charmingly cuts both ways. It suggests, as you say, how shallow we have become and how at the mercy of shallowness are the nominees.

Perhaps. But it also suggests a savvy mind, able to both detect and see importance of subtleties in court cases. This I believe is the kind of mind we want on the High Court.

I the citizen might see a given nominee and think, "You can't manage your temper, your hair, or your suit; why should you be allowed to manage labor law?"

Smooth manner in place of qualifications is inexcusable. Smooth manner accompanying qualifications, I would submit, is healthy and welcome.

12:13 PM  
Anonymous LQ said...

Carol, you and I are jurisprudential soul mates, but we disagree on this issue. Character counts. Always. I would oppose an arrogant nominee because the Supreme Court has too much power for it to be used arrogantly. Some combativeness is okay, I would oppose a “doormat”, but a justice can accomplish a lot by getting along with his or her colleagues, and accomplish little by combating them.

A nominee should be a thoroughly decent person. If that fact makes it tough for democrats to oppose him or her, so much the better.

1:13 PM  

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