Monday, September 26, 2005


The Oscar Madison Confirmation Hearings

[Transcript of Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings on the nomination of Professor Oscar Madison to the post of Associate Justice to the United States Sureme Court, having learned the lessons of the successful confirmation-hearing testimony of Judge John Roberts.]
SCHUMER: Professor, I have it here that while a college undergraduate you worked as a summer intern at the Justice Department.

MADISON: That's correct, Senator.

SCHUMER: Is it also true that in that summer internship at the Justice Department, you would literally stretch out on top of your desk -- it was an oversized government desk, I suppose -- you would stretch out and go to sleep after a late night of carousing?

MADISON: Uh, Senator -- the Justice Department frequently has cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, both as a party and as the attorneys for the government, and it would not be judicious of me to comment on matters relating to the Justice Department, as they could have cases come before the Court were I so fortunate as to be confirmed. So, no, I feel it would be inappropriate to comment on that.

SCHUMER: Well, I understand you say it's inappropriate but we'll move on. What about -- Professor Madison, would you comment on this report, this report that you, as an eight year old boy, you pulled a chair out from under your grandfather, snuck up behind him and did that while he was trying to sit down, causing him to -- to fall on the floor?


SCHUMER: Apparently, he did not hurt himself at that time, but you did this thinking that it would be funny?

MADISON: Senator, as you --

SCHUMER: Do you regret that now? I mean, don't you think that might have been insensitive? Not funny to your grandfather, hurtful? You realized right away, you had done something bad, didn't you?

MADISON: Senator, as you know, young people watch a lot of television, and I -- I was no exception, and many, many television shows -- be they cartoons or sit coms or what have you, will depict -- Wiley Coyote and Roadrunner, for instance -- will depict pratfalls and people having chairs pulled out from under them, and portray them as funny, and they are funny to the people watching the shows.
So, I think, I would have to say, the conduct was generally consistent with that of young persons watching such shows at that time, and I -- irrespective of "funny" or not, I think the point is that in certain contexts of the television shows it was certainly offered as something funny.

SCHUMER: Well, what about now? Don't you -- as you sit here today -- don't you think it would be wrong to do such a thing to your grandfather?

MADISON: Senator, my grandfather passed away some years ago, so no, the hypothetical situation you propose would simply not be a possibility today.

You stole my thunder! I was going to post some fictional outtakes from Roberts' confirmation hearings, but now I'm having second thoughts.

And wow. Your childhood was a literal Garratt v. Dailey.
Wow to you, Neel. You should do a blog feature on casebook cases that match readers problems.
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