Venable litigation partner Seth Rosenthal was quoted in an October 19, 2009 article in Law360 suggesting changes to the judicial nomination process.
In the article, which listed ways to revamp the tedious confirmation process for judicial nominees, Rosenthal suggested that if there are going to be hearings, litigators should ask the questions and Senators can do the follow-up - similar to the way Congress conducted the Watergate and Iran-Contra hearings.
With so many demands competing for their time, senators often rely on their staff to do the research for them and to formulate questions, which can lead to stilted questions often recited verbatim, nonrevealing answers, and relatively little or no follow-up, Rosenthal said.
Rosenthal suggested having one small team of practicing trial lawyers per party to lead the questioning in the Judiciary Committee. The lawyers would have more time to prepare than Senators, and would also be more used to asking questions and bearing down on witnesses to get answers, he said.
"I actually do think that having more searching hearings might reduce the level of rancor," Rosenthal said.
"Meaningfully discussing nominees' views on the law would eliminate any inclination to go looking for supposed controversies unrelated to those views, and by steeling the Senate's resolve to reject nominees who hold or hide unduly controversial views, ultimately might cause the White House to work more cooperatively with the Senate to come up with nominees that the opposition party in the Senate finds palatable," he said.