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June 27, 2010

Conceiving compelling criminal justice questions for the Kagan confirmation hearings

It is always possible that some folks involved in the Kagan confirmation hearing might sometime check out this blog, and it is certainly likely these folks have not given too much time or attention to criminal justice issues because Elena Kagan's record is so spartan on crime and punishment matters.  For these reasons (and others), I hope readers might use this post as a forum for proposing compelling criminal justice questions for the Senators on the Judiciary Committee to ask during the Kagan confirmation hearings. 

Here are a half-dozen of the hundreds of criminal justice questions I would love to see asked of Kagan in light of some of the Supreme Court's recent criminal justice jurisprudence and her recent work as Solicitor General:

1.  Do you think the Supreme Court could and should take and decide more cases on the merits, and do you think it would be especially appropriate to take up more criminal justice issues?

2.   Do you think it is useful and appropriate for the Court to decide a significant number of criminal justice cases through summary disposition without full briefing and argument (as the Roberts Court has tended to do in recent terms)?

3.   Do you think criminal justice administration should be primarily the responsibility of the states and/or do you have concerns about the ever-growing size of the federal criminal justice system?

4.  What are your current views of the pros and cons of the modern exclusionary rule?

5.  What are your current views of the pros and cons of the modern death penalty?

6.   What are your current views of the pros and cons of the advisory federal sentencing system created by the Supreme Court through its Booker ruling?

I am sure these questions could be refined, and I am sure there are lots of others worth asking Kagan.  As we all gear up for the hearing, I hope readers might share their thoughts about good questions.

June 27, 2010 at 09:44 PM | Permalink


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Good questions.

Do you consider it possible to read minds of impulsive, intoxicated people long after a crime?

What is the main purpose of the criminal law, indeed of government? Do you believe we are achieving that purpose?

You were dean of a top law school. Do you believe education or indoctrination was taking place at your school? Is it possible to make intelligent modern people believe in supernatural doctrines without indoctrination techniques?

If the words, intent, element, culpability and others could be shown to come from the Catholic Church catechism sections on mortal sin, would their use in a trial or any legal utterance violate the Establishment Clause? If these could not shown to exist in nature, but are fictitious, pretextual, church inventions, would that violate the Establishment Clause?

Are you aware of any data showing current methods, such as plea bargaining, trials, and jury verdicts have any validity or even any reliability (repeatability)?

After the first secret ballot of the jury, don't all subsequent votes reflect the views of the most domineering member, and the rest who want to go home?

Explain the justification for impeaching an experienced judge for looking into the facts of a case on his own.

Can you explain why crime rates are so low where the lawyer lives, and so high where the lawyer works? Can you explain why there are 20 million serious crimes a year, and 2 million prosecutions?

Do you pledge to edit your decisions to the sixth grade reading level?

Do you plan to continue to sign the death warrants of millions of viable babies in third term abortions, without parental consent?

Are you a homosexual, a lesbian? Do the tyrannical tendencies of such individuals affect their fitness to serve on the court for the next several decades?

If over 100,000 missing persons reports cannot be resolved each year, is it possible, the murder rate is really 70,000 and not 17,000?

Where is it you have trouble grasping, the deceased have a low recidivism rate, and those with life without parole have been granted absolute immunity for all crimes after the first murder.

Please, read out loud Article I Section 1 of our constitution. Does judicial review violate that section in any way?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 27, 2010 10:55:05 PM

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