a1 State University of New York at Buffalo
In a modern democracy, all citizens theoretically are guaranteed an equal opportunity at political representation. This paper shows that democratic theory does not always hold in practice in the United States. Discourse analysis is applied to the language used in the 1990 hearings conducted by the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary on the nomination of Judge David H. Souter to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Results show that while women are noticeably present as witnesses in hearings, they are not treated on an equal footing with men. Women's access to the political debate is limited, because they are given proportionally less time to speak than male witnesses. Further, empirical measures indicate that the effectiveness of women's testimony is undermined by senators' responses. Although women utilize what is defined as masculine language to compete within a male-dominated institution, gendered expectations can prevent them from being treated as authoritative witnesses.
(Accepted July 15 1996)
(Received May 28 1997)
Laura R. Winsky Mattei is assistant professor of political science, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14260.