Video Vault: O’Connor, Thomas and Bork in the Confirmation Hot Seat

BY Mike Fritz  June 30, 2010 at 5:06 PM EST

As the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Elena Kagan continue, it remains to be seen what issues and moments will define the proceedings.

On Tuesday, Kagan declined to comment on legal questions that “might some day come before the court” – a common stance for nominees aiming to protect their judicial neutrality.

Kagan was following a precedent that NewsHour regular Marcia Coyle said was started after the failed nomination of Robert Bork in 1987.

We’ve gone back to the NewsHour video vault for coverage of a few pivotal hearings of the past: Those of Bork, Sandra Day O’Connor and Clarence Thomas.

Watch a Judy Woodruff report from October 23, 1987, after the Senate voted 58-42 against the Bork nomination:

> Here, Robert MacNeil introduces excerpts from O’Connor’s 1981 hearing, where the soon-to-be first female justice to the Court explains her views on abortion.

O’Connor was later confirmed in the Senate by a final vote of 99-0.

The Thomas confirmation in 1991 was rocked by the testimony of Anita Hill, a former colleague of Thomas at the Department of Education, who alleged the judge had sexually harassed her.

Watch a NewsHour report from 1991 on the day before Thomas was confirmed 52-48 by the Senate in the narrowest margin since former Confederate Lucius Q.C. Lamar won approval in 1888 by a vote of 32-28.

Stay tuned to the NewsHour online and on-air for gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Kagan hearings.