Confirmation Hearing of Sonia Sotomayor as Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court

 
Read on March 10, 2013 (this is the review I falsely accused GR of editing *hangs head in shame*)
 


Please note - since this review includes an examination of and criticism of an American institution by a non-citizen and non-resident of the US, it is bound to offend someone. I can't help that, and hope you will read my review in the spirit in which it is intended.

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While it is difficult to rate an audiobook that is a taping of a live event, here is how I arrived at my rating:

Pedagogical value: 5 STARS

Process followed during the hearings and behaviour of the parties, as it contributed to my understanding of the process: 3 STARS

Overall impression: 4 STARS

I learned so much from this audiobook, having never before had the opportunity to listen to a confirmation hearing, and having no prior experience with this practice. In my own country, Canada, the Prime Minister appoints the justices of our Supreme Court with no public or parliamentary participation in the process. As a lawyer and political aide, I came away wanting for Canada a modified version of the US system.

While I think this audiobook should be required "reading" in high school classes in many countries, I was often frustrated by the repetitive, impudent and downright hostile questions asked of the nominee, and by the nominee's careful, diplomatic, evasive answers to those questions. Both parties appeared to be engaging in an elaborate dance - the Senate subjecting the nominee to as much abuse and / or fawning as possible before voting almost exclusively on party lines, and the nominee doing and saying what was necessary to get confirmed, not what was necessary to answer those questions American Bar Association rules and her innate sense of congeniality permitted her to answer. But I did form the impression of an extraordinarily thorough confirmation process, which speaks well of both American legislators and the American judiciary.

I did not think it was necessary or helpful to constantly reiterate that "America is the best country in the world, our legal system is the best, our people the freest, etc., etc.". 

I found the nominee very likeable, and admire her so much I intend to read her autobiography! I must say that this affected my enjoyment of the material - had I disliked her, I might not have appreciated the audiobook as much as I did.

I very much enjoyed the exposure to the guiding principles of American law and to major caselaw that the audiobook offered. I also enjoyed the participation of non-legislators in the process by means of the panel discussions that followed formal questioning of the nominee.