Advice & Consent: Semi-Automated Text Analysis of Judicial Confirmation Hearings

Joint with James Hicks.

How does Congress exercise its constitutional role to advise on, and consent to, the nomination of federal judges? Much has been written about the confirmation process, both in the academic and popular literatures, but to date relatively little empirical research has focused on the operation of the hearings themselves. Using semi-automated text analysis methods, we explore a new dataset of all nomination hearings held by the Senate Judiciary Committee between 2001-2012. In doing so, we begin to shed light on a largely unexplored “black box” of American politics: the substance and work-product of Congressional hearings.