While the confirmation process of judiciary candidates becomes partisan and trivial, the administration of justice goes unattended.
The nomination and confirmation process for federal judges is broken. It politicizes the judiciary, misrepresents the judiciary's role in our democracy, demeans highly qualified nominees, and unjustifiably delays or jettisons confirmations altogether. Such political theater trivializes a decision of considerable magnitude -- the lifetime appointment of a federal judge -- and has no hope of accomplishing its stated aim: the vetting of a candidate for the performance of the judicial function as it actually occurs.
Understanding why the process falls short of this aim requires an appreciation of the proper role of an American judge. Stated simply, it is to ascertain the relevant law, giving due respect to precedent, and to apply that law to the facts of the case at hand. To fulfill this role, a judge must remain detached and impartial -- and not merely from personal or financial interests. Judges owe no responsibility to party or social faction, and must not be concerned with whether an outcome will incur public approbation or wrath.
The foregoing is unquestionably true of federal judges beneath the Supreme Court, i.e., the district and circuit judges who decide all but the handful of cases that reach the Supreme Court. Such judges are bound by the Court's and their circuits' precedents. It is also largely true of the Supreme Court justices. Most of the cases accepted for review by the Supreme Court involve reasonable differences among lower courts' application of law or precedent that need resolution. The Court has greater latitude in constitutional interpretation, but, under the doctrine of stare decisis, it is still guided by its own prior decisions. And even when the Supreme Court departs from or overrules its own precedent, it engages in rigorous deductive reasoning and explanation.