Today’s New York Times has a long article (here) discussing the empirical work of Feminist Law Professor Lori Ringhand (University of Georgia) and her co-author Paul M. Collins, Jr. (Political Science, U. of N. Texas). Here’s how the Times summarizes:
[A] new study, based on an analysis of every question asked and every answer given at Supreme Court confirmation hearings in the last 70 years, shows that the hearings often address real substance, illuminate the spirit of their times and change with shifts in partisan alignments and the demographic characteristics of nominees.
The study also refutes the common mistaken belief that questions about abortion rights have played a dominant role in confirmation hearings since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. And it finds that female and minority nominees are questioned more closely than white male ones.
In the article, Professor Ringhand says that the confirmation hearing for a nominated Supreme Court justice, "really is the way that people, through their elected representatives, are claiming ownership of constitutional meeting."