There are 18 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and, at times, they can be some of the most ornery, bombastic and self-important members in the entire Congress. And that’s on a good day.

Last week’s confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito Jr. revealed the committee in all its glory: It was a stylized set piece in which all 10 Republicans and eight Democrats played largely pre-programmed roles. And it made for a week of high-mindedness and low comedy — or maybe it was the other way around.

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