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Although the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee David H. Souter '61 do not begin until next month, legal and political buffs here may get a sneak preview at the Kennedy School of Government tomorrow.
Howard Yourow, who is pursuing his doctorate at the University of Michigan Law School, has organized a mock confirmation hearing that will take place at the Kennedy School's ARCO Forum tomorrow afternoon. Yourow said that everyone in attendance will be allowed to play the part of a Senate Judiciary Committee member, so that they can ask questions of the nominee and cast votes for or against his appointment to the high court.
Yourow said yesterday that he hopes the event, which is cosponsored by the Kennedy School's Institute of Politics and the Summer in Boston program, will allow armchair senators a public forum for airing their views.
"Audiences usually play passive roles," Yourow said. "I'm sure we're going to have a very interesting dynamic."
Yourow said that he will play the part of Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. In addition, Yourow said that Brian Couchouchis, a constitutional lawyer who has worked with Tyler Professor of Constitutional Law Laurence H. Tribe '62, will play Souter.
And before questioning is opened to the audience, two students working on Harvard's Summer in Boston program will grill the mock Souter extensively.
Yourow said that Couchouchis will attempt to befaithful to the real Souter's character, and addedthat the mock Souter--like the real one--might notanswer questions about certain controversialissues, such as abortion.
"I'm leaving the interpretation open to him,"Yourow said. "He's going to try to throw out someideas as to what the real Senate and Americanpublic might expect."
Yourow, who taught an Institute of Politicsseminar on the U.S. Supreme Court two years ago,said he was scheduled to give a lecture on thecourt's past term even before last month'sresignation of Justice William J. Brennan. Butwhen Brennan resigned and President Bush hastilynominated Souter, Yourow said he thought he shoulddo something out of the ordinary, in order tocapitalize on the new political climate.
"The idea then became in my mind, `we have areal hot political issue to plug into thelecture,'" Yourow said. "I thought, `let's do thismock confirmation to fuse political and legalissues in an interesting way to involve theaudience.'"
Yourow said he prefers not to hazard a guess onwhether the audience will confirm Souter, saying"anything can happen."
"I think they're will be very strong opinions,and lots of them on both sides," Yourow said.
The hearing will begin at 4:30 p.m. tomorrow,and is expected to last about an hour, Yourowsaid
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