In a 1995 book review for the University of Chicago Law Review, Elena Kagan described Supreme Court confirmation hearings as a "vapid and hollow charade, in which repetition of platitudes has replaced discussion of viewpoints and personal anecdotes have supplanted legal analysis.” Guest-hosting The Ed Show, Nation Washington Editor Christopher Hayes says that the hearings have only gotten worse since then. In 2005, Chief Justice John Roberts said that, "A good judge is a complete political blank slate with no views whatsoever—an umpire." In response, Hayes says, "Judges are called judges because they use their judgment…There will never come a time when our supreme court is solely populated by machines.”

During Kagan’s testimony she said, "If confirmed, I will remember and abide all these lessons. I will listen hard to any party before the court and to each of my collegues. I will work hard and I will do my best to consider every case impartially, modestly, with commitment to principle and in accordance to law." A pledge to be impartial, "whatever that means," says Hayes. The confirmation process is caught in a "contradiction" by never being so explicitly politicized than it is now and for having nominees who have "never been more emphatic that they have no views and certainly no politics.”

—Melanie Breault