Kagan nomination: Key senators, interest groups react
While Democratic senators predictably voiced support for President Obama's choice for the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, response from Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee was muted, suggesting Kagan's road to the high court may be relatively smooth. Here's a selection of comments on the nomination from key senators and their allies in Washington.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.):
Elena Kagan's nomination will bring to the Supreme Court a diversity of experience missing since Justice O'Connor retired in 2006. I have urged President Obama to look outside the judicial monastery to identify qualified nominees who will bring a diversity of life experience to the Court. Elena Kagan is just such a nominee.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C..), Senate Judiciary Committee member:
Solicitor General Kagan has a strong academic background in the law. I have been generally pleased with her job performance as Solicitor General, particularly regarding legal issues related to the War on Terror. I look forward to meeting her again, this time to discuss her qualifications to sit on the highest court in the land.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Senate Judiciary Committee member:
My hope is that the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court will be able to help build consensus on this closely divided court in a way Justice Stevens epitomized. As I said to President Obama during our recent call, I also believe the next justice should be a leader with broad experiences who will uphold the precedents of the court and has a passion for protections found in our Constitution. Should she be confirmed, Solicitor General Kagan need only look as far as her clerk experience with Justice Thurgood Marshall and Judge Abner Mikvah for models to exemplify.
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Senate Judiciary Committee member:
"As I made clear when I supported her confirmation as Solicitor General, a temporary political appointment is far different than a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court."
Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), who as a Republican opposed Kagan's confirmation as solicitor general:
I voted against her for Solicitor General because she wouldn't answer basic questions about her standards for handling that job. It is a distinctly different position than that of a Supreme Court Justice.
I have an open mind about her nomination and hope she will address important questions related to her position on matters such as executive power, warrantless wiretapping, a woman's right to choose, voting rights and congressional power.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Senate Judiciary Committee member:
There is no doubt that Ms. Kagan possesses a first-rate intellect, but she is a surprising choice from a president who has emphasized the importance of understanding 'how the world works and how ordinary people live.' Ms. Kagan has spent her entire professional career in Harvard Square, Hyde Park, and the DC Beltway. These are not places where one learns 'how ordinary people live.' Ms. Kagan is likewise a surprising choice because she lacks judicial experience. Most Americans believe that prior judicial experience is a necessary credential for a Supreme Court Justice.
John Podesta, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress:
In this sense, Kagan is a welcome contrast to the narrow, conservative voices which dominate today's Supreme Court. General Kagan forged a bipartisan consensus in favor of regulations preventing tobacco companies from marketing their products to children. Despite this consensus, a conservative 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court adopted an implausible reading of federal law to declare such regulations invalid in 2000. Unlike these conservative justices, Kagan understands that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what a powerful industry says it should be.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele:
The President has stated repeatedly that he wants a justice who will understand the effects of decisions on the lives of everyday Americans. But what Americans want is a justice who will stay true to the Constitution and defend the rights of all Americans, adhering to the rule of law instead of legislating from the bench. Given Kagan's opposition to allowing military recruiters access to her law school's campus, her endorsement of the liberal agenda and her support for statements suggesting that the Constitution "as originally drafted and conceived, was 'defective,'" you can expect Senate Republicans to respectfully raise serious and tough questions to ensure the American people can thoroughly and thoughtfully examine Kagan's qualifications and legal philosophy before she is confirmed to a lifetime appointment.
Nan Aron, Alliance for Justice:
In these troubled economic times, Americans want to know that those appointed to the bench understand the impact the Court's decisions have on their lives, and that our judiciary does not favor the wealthy and powerful. With the sharp turn the Court has taken in recent years toward protecting corporate interests, we urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to use the confirmation process to directly address the bread-and-butter issues that come before the Court and which affect the lives and livelihoods of the American people.
Carrie Severino, Judicial Crisis Network:
President Obama has nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan to replace Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court. Obama wants to pack the court with reliable liberal votes to rubber-stamp an agenda that he knows the American people would not accept. What better way than to appoint a loyalist from his own Department of Justice with a thin public record to advance his leftist legacy through the Court.
Ever since her efforts to get on the D.C. Circuit were stymied for fear of her extremist views, Kagan has bent over backwards to avoid taking public positions on hot-button topics. Except when she can't help herself, like when she banned military recruiters during wartime from Harvard Law School because their Democrat-initiated "don't ask don't tell" policy was, in her words, "a moral injustice of the first order."
May 10, 2010; 1:41 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency
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