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Excerpts from remarks by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI)

The following are excerpts from Sen. Herb Kohl's (D-WI) opening remarks:

On Kagan's judicial experience:

"You come before us today not from the halls of our judicial monastery, but with the insight of a scholar and a teacher and the political, policy and legal acumen of a White House aide, law school dean, and the solicitor general of the United States."

On the significance of confirmation:

"Should you be confirmed, your decisions will impact our pocketbooks and our livelihoods and determine the scope of our most cherished rights, from the right to privacy to the right to equal education, employment and pay, from the right to an attorney and a fair trial for the accused, to the right to speak and worship freely."

On Kagan's role on The Court:

"We hear the overused platitudes from every nominee that he or she will apply the facts to the law and faithfully follow the Constitution. But deciding Supreme Court cases is not merely a mechanical application of the law. There will be few easy decisions and many cases will be decided by narrow margins. You will not merely be calling balls and strikes. If that was the case, then Supreme Court nominations and our hearings would not be the high-stakes events that they are today."

On getting to know Kagan's judicial philosophy:

"We can gain some insight from your work for President Clinton and Justice Thurgood Marshall, but we have less evidence about what sort of judge you will be than on any nominee in recent memory. You judicial philosophy is almost invisible to us.
We don't have a right to know in advance how you will decide cases, but we do have a right to understand your judicial philosophy and what you think about fundamental issues that will come before the court. As you said in your own critique of these hearings in 1995, it is, quote, 'an embarrassment that senators do not insist that a nominee reveal what kind of justice she would make by disclosing her views on important legal issues.'"

On not needing "ideaological purity" from nominees:

"I also look for a nominee to have the sense of values and judicial philosophy that are within the mainstream of legal thought in our country. No one, including the president, has the right to require ideological purity from a member of the Supreme Court, but we do have a right to require that the nominee accept both the basic principles of the Constitution and its core values implanted in society."

On "compassion":

"And finally, we want a nominee with a sense of compassion. "Compassion" does not mean bias or lack of impartiality. It is meant to remind us that the law is more than a mental exercise or an intellectual feast. It is about the real problems that will shape the fabric of American life for generations to come."

By Emi Kolawole  |  June 28, 2010; 2:29 PM ET
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