Some light reading. If I was a bright guy, I'd probably spend some time over at the Social Science Research Network reading "An Empirical Analysis of the Confirmation Hearings of the Justices of the Rehnquist Natural Court." Then again, maybe not. The abstract of the article pretty much confirmed my suspicions: after comparing the confirmation testimony of the justices with their actual decisions, the authors conclude
Our results indicate that confirmation hearings statements about a nominee's preferred interpretive methodologies provide very little information about future judicial behavior.
Like Captain Renault, I'm shocked -- shocked -- to hear that. Sort of reminded me of Clarence Thomas' testimony during his hearings in 1991 that he had never discussed the contents of Roe v. Wade, apparently being the only person in the United States who hadn't.
It also reminded me of an article the other day about Justice John Paul Stevens, who was nominated by Gerald Ford back in calmer times, in 1975. The article noted that despite the fact that capital punishment was a critical issue for the Supreme Court -- the Court had declared it unconstitutional in 1972, and would reverse itself in 1976 -- nobody even thought to ask Stevens his opinion on the subject.
Say that three times real fast. Here's another one from SSRN that I never got around to reading: "Does the Supreme Court's Current Doctrine of Stare Decisis Require Adherence to the Supreme Court's Current Doctrine of Stare Decisis?" The abstract:
This Article asks whether a fair application of the Supreme Court's current doctrine of stare decisis to the Supreme Court's current doctrine of stare decisis would counsel in favor of adhering to current doctrine or departing from it. Professor Paulsen argues that the paradoxical answer is that current doctrine of precedent suggests that current doctrine of precedent disserves all of the doctrine's supposed policy justifications. Accordingly, the Court's current doctrine of stare decisis may and should be overruled - according to the Court's current doctrine of stare decisis.
Update. Back in December of 2006, I blogged about the drug raid on an Atlanta home:
It was the home of Kathryn Johnston, an 92-year-old so afraid of intruders that she required the neighbors who brought her groceries to leave them on the porch rather than enter the house. The police officers pried off her security door, and as they broke down the wooden door into the house, Johnston opened fire with a rusty revolver, striking three of them before they returned fire and killed her.
Things pretty much went to hell after that. A subsequent Federal investigation revealed that the police had gotten a warrant based on an allegation that a confidential informant had made a controlled buy of crack at the house earlier that day. Except, it turns out, there was no informant, and there was no controlled buy: the cops made all that up. Johnston only got off one shot; the police fired 39 times, and several officers were wounded by the fragments of their bullets. The officers handcuffed Johnston, then went around the house planting marijuana while she bled to death.
Two of the officers pled guilty to manslaughter charges, and are doing more than ten years; another officer was convicted last week of making false statements, and faces five years in prison.
Turns out that's not the half of it. The Federal prosecutors alleged that there was a "culture of misconduct" in the Atlanta Police Department, and that "police officers regularly lied to obtain search warrants and fabricated documentation of drug purchases." In fact, the lawyer for the officer convicted last week offered an interesting defense at trial: he said his client was simply following his training when he put false claims in the affidavit for the warrant.