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Kudos to news outlets for skewering GOP "judicial experience" line

It needs to be said that some news outlets are really doing a bang-up job of skewering the GOP's assault on Elena Kagan's lack of judicial experience. Multiple reports this morning have proven this is a standard Republicans never saw fit to apply nominees they supported.

To be sure, this story is kind of like the reportorial version of shooting fish in a barrel. There are so many examples of Republicans claiming that the inexperience of nominees they backed was a non-issue that one hardly knows where to begin.

Then there's the somewhat problematic fact that former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, beloved by Republicans, had arguably less experience before ascending to the court than Kagan does. Here's John Cornyn on Kagan:

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.

And here's Cornyn on Rehnquist's passing in 2005:

He was truly the judicial giant of our time...For the past three decades, William Rehnquist did not simply serve on the bench. He truly loved and revered the Court, as only a devoted scholar and student of that great institution could.

According to Cornyn, Rehnquist's legal scholarship and reverence for the court, two qualities everyone agrees Kagan possesses, enabled him to become "the judicial giant of our time." This, despite his initial paucity of judicial experience.

Multiple news outlets dug up lots more like this.

McClatchy had a terrific piece on the topic. So did the Associated Press, which, unless I'm missing something, has been unusually aggressive lately. Roll Call had a strong piece, too.

It's easy to dismiss this stuff as "gotcha" reporting or "low hanging fruit." But that misses the point, which is that some Republicans undertook this line of attack even though the public record is fairly bristling with material showing it to be ridiculous. And some media outlets decided to call them out on it.

By Greg Sargent  |  May 12, 2010; 1:08 PM ET
Categories:  Political media , Senate Republicans , Supreme Court  
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Next: Flashback: Obama raised concerns about Miers' lack of judicial experience

Comments

All of which has very little to do with the fact that polling indicates the vast majority of the public think that a nominee should have prior judicial experience.

Posted by: sbj3 | May 12, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Agreed, Greg: I see definite signs that the MSM is coming out of its coma and beginning to call the GOP on its utter BS. Ap most notably. (Not television, however; CNN is more pathetic than ever. The alleged on-air "talent" on that network is pitiful.)

Posted by: wbgonne | May 12, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

sbj, I don't think that was the point of Greg's post. It's a matter of record their previous comments regarding experience and for once the media actually did their job and pointed out the discrepancies.

I don't find it all that compelling but it is unusual.

Posted by: lmsinca | May 12, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

"the fact that polling indicates the vast majority of the public think that a nominee should have prior judicial experience"

See how long that remains a "fact" now that the MSM is pointing out the GOP's hypocrisy.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 12, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Greg, I've got a youtube clip on Cornyn talking about the necessity of people without judicial experience on the bench.

Thought I would share it...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPAJqduS0SQ

Posted by: calchala | May 12, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

SBJ

What the hell do polls have to do with the selection of A Supreme Court Justice. They are not elected; they are selected.

Posted by: Liam-still | May 12, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I want to let all those Poll Pushing Morons, such as SBJ, in on a big secret:

Regardless of how much prior judicial experience, or lack off, that a Supreme Court Justice has; they are just one of nine, and the only way they have any impact is when at least four other justices side with them, on their opinions. You know that majority thingy?!

On the other hand; Right Wingers were delighted to vote for Half Term Palin, to put her a heart beat away from being President.

Right Wingers are habitually two faced.

Posted by: Liam-still | May 12, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

thanks, calchala.

and wbgonne/lmsinca, agreed, there are signs the media is really assuming a newly aggressive posture towards the GOP.

Posted by: sargegreg | May 12, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

This isn't the only area where Republicans are just ignoring facts. Steve Benen wrote a great post on the economy yesterday noting that even though 200,000 have been created in each of the last two months, the GOP critique is still 'Where are the jobs?'

Posted by: fatcatobserver | May 12, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

When Republicans ask; "where are the jobs?"

Tell them:

They are where you provided tax breaks to have them sent; overseas in China, etc.

Posted by: Liam-still | May 12, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

sbj,
Is it your contention that it is good policy for the GOP to pursue the lack of judicial experience simply because it polls well? How about the fact that it flies in the face of history as well as the previous statements and standards of the GOP?

Would it be responsible journalism to ignore the fact that 40 out of 111 total Supreme Court Justices had no prior judicial experience? That’s 36% throughout our history, so it is far from unusual. The judicial experience metric is clearly a modern adoption. The 38 years since the last nominee to SCOTUS without judicial experience - Rehnquist, 1972 - is the longest such gap in our history. Is it responsible journalism to ignore this simply because “judicial inexperience” polls well?

Would it be responsible journalism to ignore the fact that some of the most notable justices in history came to SCOTUS with no prior judicial experience? Justices such as John Jay, John Marshall, Louis Brandeis, Harlan Fiske Stone, Felix Frankfurter, William O. Douglas, Earl Warren, Abe Fortas, Lewis Powell, and William Rehnquist had no prior judicial experience. Should journalists ignore this salient fact simply because “judicial inexperience” polls well?

After a few more days of education rebuttal concerning the facts as to just how common a lack of judicial experience of SCOTUS nominees is, let’s take another poll. If it does not poll well then, that means that you think that the matter should be dropped, right?

Quit while you’re behind. This is a losing cause and no convoluted apologia from you will change that.

Another epic GOP fail.

Posted by: Gasman1 | May 12, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

So you got the RNC flap now this blunder.

I would still say the Democrats came out of the gate fast and furious on this one and the GOP are trying to play catch-up as they try to distance themselves from some and fail to convince on another message.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | May 12, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

"Is it responsible journalism to ignore this?"

Who suggested it was?

Her lack of judicial experience is a legitimate topic for discussion during hearings. I'm not defending hypocrisy.

Posted by: sbj3 | May 12, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I remember long before we knew it was Kagan, there were numerous reports of people wishing he didn't chose a judge and would instead choose a Gov. or someone with a different perspective.

...just something that popped into my head.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | May 12, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

mikefromArlington?

This is for you. From Politicalwire:

"Unmentioned in news this morning that the Republican party will pick Tampa as the site for their 2012 national convention: Ben Smith points out the city is known as the "lap dance capital of the world" with 56 different clubs that are adult-oriented.

Given the scandal over RNC expenses at a "bondage-themed nightclub" earlier this year, one wonders if this was a wise choice. "

Lesbian bondage gate LIVES.

Posted by: CTVoter | May 12, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

@Greg The new site is eating posts!

I've had four consumed by the page that says "your post is being reviewed yadda yadda"

While a couple of the posts were a bit long and I originally thought that was the problem...the last two were as short as this one...none of them had links..btw could we get the old hyperlink process back like we used to enjoy in the good ole days?

I do like preview but again for an old fart the small print is a pita!

One hint about the problem of eaten posts...if I recall I think I had attempted to use preview on all of them.
On this one I simply used the submit button...maybe that will cure my problem...avoid preview.

Has anybody else experienced difficulty posting and did you try preview?

Posted by: rukidding7 | May 12, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

@Greg: why are you sometimes Greg Sargent and sometimes sargegreg in Comments?? Just curious.

Posted by: Michigoose | May 12, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

If any Republican Senator asks Ms. Kagan about her lack of prior judicial experience, all she has to say in, in response is:

Well Senator, President Obama nominated me to be a Federal Appeals Judge, back when your party controlled the US Senate, and your party never moved on my nomination. Think about how much judicial experience I would have now, if your party had not obstructed my nomination, way back then.

You can not block me from getting lower court experience, and then complain about I not having any.

Posted by: Liam-still | May 12, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Not surprised CT. I'm sure Vitter already has a private VP room reserved at all of his favs strip clubs.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | May 12, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

If any Republican Senator asks Ms. Kagan about her lack of prior judicial experience, all she has to say in, in response is:

Well Senator, President Obama nominated me to be a Federal Appeals Judge, back when your party controlled the US Senate, and your party never moved on my nomination. Think about how much judicial experience I would have now, if your party had not obstructed my nomination, way back then.

You can not block me from getting lower court experience, and then complain about I not having any.

Posted by: Liam-still | May 12, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Momentum.....

http://www.pollster.com/polls/us/10-us-house-genballot.php

Posted by: mikefromArlington | May 12, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Just curious but do journalists have a list sitting next to them with words like skewer, annihilates, eradicates, destroys, etc?

Or do you just use a thesaurus?

Posted by: mikefromArlington | May 12, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

She went to Harvard! She's elitist!

Oh, wait, so did Judge Roberts.

Ummmm....DEATH PANELS!

Posted by: theorajones1 | May 12, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I noticed the Republicans are trying to avoid using all the same talking points they pounded on over and over with Sotomayor.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | May 12, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

All, this seems potentially important:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/05/flashback_obama_said_harriet_m.html

important to increase pressure for her to be fully forthcoming

Posted by: Greg Sargent | May 12, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

sbj,
"Her lack of judicial experience is a legitimate topic for discussion during hearings. I'm not defending hypocrisy."

The hell you aren't. Why is Kagan's lack of experience an issue but Rehnquist's was not? THAT is the point that Greg was making.

When was the last time you pushed an idea that was NOT straight from FauxNews?

Posted by: Gasman1 | May 12, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Laura Bush pro gay marriage and pro choice:

http://hotair.com/archives/2010/05/12/milblogger-statement-its-time-to-end-dont-ask-dont-tell/

Posted by: sbj3 | May 12, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

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