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Sessions: Kagan violated the law at Harvard; Schumer: Gulf spill makes passing climate bill more difficult; Kyl says Kagan filibuster unlikely; Sestak predicts victory

By Matt DeLong and Aaron Blake

Sunday Rundown: A quick wrap-up of the Sunday talk shows.

ABC: THIS WEEK - Sessions: Kagan violated the law at Harvard

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and the committee's ranking member, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) appeared together to talk about the nomination of Solicitor Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Leahy said he expects to sit down with Sessions this week to work out a date for Kagan's confirmation hearings, after she returns a questionnaire from the committee. Sessions said Kagan's continuation of Harvard Law School's restrictions on military recruitment on campus over the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy when she was dean was no "little-bitty matter." He said Kagan "was not in compliance with the law at various points in her tenure," referring to an amendment that prohibits schools receiving federal funds from preventing military recruitment on campus.

Following Attorney General Eric Holder's suggestion that the administration may pursue changes to the Miranda rule, which requires suspects to be informed of their rights upon arrest, to allow more leeway for handling terror suspects, Leahy said any change "has to be made within the confines of what the United States Supreme Court has already said."

Sessions also said he expects British Petroleum to "pay every cent" of the cost of cleaning up the massive oil spill that followed the explosion of one of its rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.


NBC: MEET THE PRESS - Schumer: Gulf spill makes passing climate bill more difficult

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico would make passage of a climate bill this year more difficult because the bill includes a compromise allowing for the expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) described the spill as an "environmental disaster of gargantuan proportions," and called for the administration's response to be a "big part of the inquiry" into what happened. McConnell said "BP will pay for" the damage, but warned that raising the cap on damages too much would create a situation in which only large companies are able to extract oil and gas in the Gulf.

Schumer said that Kagan's Supreme Court confirmation hearings "should not be a farce ... they should talk about judicial ideology and philosophy." He added that he hopes Kagan will be able to bring the court's liberal and conservative factions together. McConnell said, "Republicans have treated Supreme Court nominees a lot better than Democrats have," and added that he "can't think of a single [Democratic] nominee treated like" Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas or Samuel Alito.

While noting that the question of where and how to try self-described 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was still open, Schumer said, "the chances of him being tried in New York are close to zero."

After retiring Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) endorsed tea party favorite Rand Paul as his replacement in Tuesday's primary, while McConnell endorsed Paul's opponent, Trey Grayson, McConnell said he will attend a GOP unity rally at the state Capitol on Saturday. He said the tea party movement is "going to really help" Republicans in November. Schumer predicted that Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) will edge out his primary challenger, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) "by a little."


CBS: FACE THE NATION - Kyl: Kagan filibuster unlikely

Senate Judiciary Committee member Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) criticized Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan for calling a GOP proposal on Guantanamo Bay "fundamentally lawless" and comparing it to something that would occur in dictatorships. Kagan was one of several law school deans writing Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on the matter in 2005. "The key question is whether she puts her political beliefs aside," Kyl said, adding that because she has never been a judge, "it's difficult to know."

Fellow Judiciary Committee member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) defended Kagan, saying she would look into the 2005 letter but that she has "seen nothing" that would cause her concern about confirming Kagan. Kyl said the GOP is unlikely to filibuster Kagan.


CNN: STATE OF THE UNION - Sestak prdicts victory

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), who faces a difficult primary with Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) on Tuesday, rewrote a little history surrounding his party switch, which he called "principled." He said he "had a clear shot at reelection" as a Republican. "If I had stayed with the obstructionist Republican caucus, I would have been reelected easily - especially in an election year when the party out of power is favored," Specter said Sunday. At the time of his switch, Specter was facing a challenge from Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and he said then that he left the GOP because he would have had a difficult time winning a sixth term as a Republican.

Sestak also appeared on the show, and he predicted victory over Specter on Tuesday. Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah), who lost his own battle for his party's nomination last weekend, said the anti-Washington mood has led people to "not differentiate between their representative in Congress and the federal government."


CSPAN: NEWSMAKERS - Gregg: Dems playing politics with finance bill

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) blamed the White House for breaking off bipartisan negotiations on a financial reform bill and said Democrats are delaying in order to help Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) get reelected. The Senate this week defeated a Republican amendment that would have altered language crafted by Lincoln to deal with derivatives. Gregg said Democratic senators have given him a wink and a nod that the derivatives language will be dealt with after Lincoln gets past a difficult primary with Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter on Tuesday. Gregg also blasted the White House for the lack of bipartisanship on the bill. "It went south when the White House decided to pull people back from negotiations on the Democratic side, who were negotiating in good faith in my opinion, with many of us on our side of the aisle, because they decided that they want a populist issue," Gregg said.


FOX NEWS SUNDAY - Laura Bush: 'Gay marriage will come'

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) was on hand to promote his new book. He accused President Obama and Democrats of trying to impose a "secular-socialist machine" on the country. Gingrich asserted that this machine represents as great "a threat to our way of life" as Nazi Germany did during World War II. Gingrich called on the president to withdraw his nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. He said Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) has "a very high probability of losing" to Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) in Tuesday's primary and that former eBay CEO Meg Whitman will be the next governor of California.

Former first lady Laura Bush, also promoting a new book, said she thinks Kagan's nomination to the high court is "great." "I'm really glad there will be three [women on the court] if she's confirmed," Bush said. "I like to have women on the Supreme Court. ... I'd like women to be represented in all parts of civic life."

Bush said that "gay marriage will come" and she's "okay with that." She said she does not really have an opinion on repealing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy that bans openly gay people from serving. She said that decision will be up to lawmakers and the military. Bush compared the recent debate over immigration, and specifically Arizona's tough new law, with anti-immigrant movements of the past. She said anti-immigrant sentiments are "a trait of nativism" that show up "in American history in a lot of different ways.

By 44 Editor  |  May 16, 2010; 2:15 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Supreme Court  
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Next: Senate Republicans test out new Kagan attacks


Agree with all of the earlier posts on Sessions. He is a liar who just goes for the Fox soundbites. He is dishonest and morally bankrupt.

Posted by: barnabytwist | May 23, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Fear, Hatred, Distortion, Distraction and Division. It's all Republicans, or their evil little step-children T. Baggers, have to offer.

Posted by: thebobbob | May 16, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

"fear and smears" -- Well said, hairguy01.
Newt drags out his pseudo-intellectual propaganda just in time for possible preparation of a presidential campaign, Ted, don'cha know?
He seems to think everyone will forget his past political history.
But then, look at the cynical view the GOP has of the American voter.
They think all of us will forget when and where and under whom the country almost collapsed and threatened all of us, 18 months later.
Hope springs eternal, I guess.
Until they try the same scams again, next time.

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | May 16, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Sessions goes for the dumbed down Fox soundbite - ignoring the FACTS about Kagan and military recruiters on the Harvard campus.....

Why do Republican senators LIE?

Posted by: angie12106 | May 16, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Why is Newt Gingrich provided such a platform to state his outrageous views and blatant mistruths. He holds no office and has not been a candidate for 12 years. He's not a journalist. He is simply a useful tool of the Fox News and Heritage Foundation crowd. Pure propaganda. Where does he get this secular socialist crap?

Posted by: TedFord1 | May 16, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Sessions is a liar. This is the 2010 political equivalent of 'Saddam has WMD'. The only arrows in the GOP quiver are fear and smears.

Posted by: hairguy01 | May 16, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

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