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Next attack on Kagan: Partisan rubber stamp!

If at first you don't succeed...

Mitch MConnell, speaking to reporters today, rolled out the next attack line on Elena Kagan: Because she served in Obama's administration, she can't possibly be an independent jurist...

"As Solicitor General, Ms. Kagan is a member of the President's Administration. The President on Monday also said that they're 'friends.' And the Vice President's Chief of Staff -- who helped oversee her nomination -- is evidently hard at work convincing members of the President's party that they will have nothing to worry about in terms of Ms. Kagan's possible appointment," McConnell noted.

That's not necessarily a positive, he argued.

"In our constitutional order, justices are not on anyone's team. They have a very different role to play. As a Supreme Court justice, Ms. Kagan's job description would change dramatically," McConnell said. "Far from being a member of the President's team, she'd suddenly be serving as a check on it. This is why the Founders were insistent that judges be independent arbiters, not advocates."

If Repubilcans start echoing this, we should recall that Clarence Thomas served on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under Reagan and Bush the Elder before Bush nominated him to the Supreme Court in 1990. What's more, William Rehnquist served in Nixon's Justice Department before Nixon nominated him to the court in 1971.

By the way, it's perfectly fair game to raise questions about whether Kagan would be a sufficient check on Obama's agenda -- particularly whether she'd likely agree with the administration's views of the proper limits on executive power. But her actual views on such questions are what count, not who she worked for.

Given the resumes of Thomas and Rehnquist it's hard to see this one catching fire.

UPDATE, 5:22 p.m.: The DNC emails pushback:

"Six of the twelve Supreme Court justices nominated by Republican presidents since Nixon worked in the executive branch before joining the court. Elena Kagan will serve on the Court with the same independence and integrity. The sincerity of Mitch McConnell's concern would be much more convincing if he had expressed the same concern in the past, including John Roberts' work in multiple Republican administrations. But he didn't. Neither did any other Republican. Just as they didn't have any problems with Bush nominees who hadn't served in the federal judiciary in the past. Whether it's this issue or that of judicial experience, Republican hypocrisy is undermining their credibility at every turn and prejudicing actually relevant and probative lines of scrutiny."

By Greg Sargent  |  May 12, 2010; 5:07 PM ET
Categories:  Senate Republicans , Supreme Court  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Flashback: Obama raised concerns about Miers' lack of judicial experience
Next: Happy Hour Roundup


They're not having much luck are they? They might as well try to discover if she prefers cats or dogs, pepsi or coke, or maybe she's left handed and make hay out of that. Until the hearings begin and they can ask real questions with answers maybe they should just give it up.

Posted by: lmsinca | May 12, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Mr. McConnell employs the dastardly rhetorical device of guilt-by-association.

Mr. McConnell defiles his own personal decency but suggesting that there is something wrong in professional relationships of trust and admiration between honest people.

He would defile with dastardly innuendo that to earn the friendship and respect of a person is to somehow bad and sinister.

From Mr. McConnell's direction is wafting the distinct whiff of sulfur. Perhaps it emanates from a close friend and political supporter of Mr. McConnell's.

Posted by: 1EgoNemo | May 12, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

>>>"But her actual views on such questions are what count."

Hey, kids! Time for a quick quiz on American political life!!!

Q: When is an American not allowed the freedom to think as they believe right?

A: When they are nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Posted by: 1EgoNemo | May 12, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

To help move along the discussion, we've pasted below the qualifications for Supreme Court Justice that are listed in the Constitution of the United States:

" "

Thank you.

Posted by: 1EgoNemo | May 12, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

If Kagan is the "partisan rubber stamp" as the GOP now alleges, how come liberals have been mostly lukewarm to her nomination? Obama himself isn't even a "partisan rubber stamp" for the liberals so why should we believe that his nominee to SCOTUS would be even more so?

What is most amazing is how quickly the GOP jettisoned the "lack of experience" meme in favor of the excuse du jour for opposing an Obama nominee. But, sbj, it was polling SO well!

How long before they abandon this meme for the next one?

Posted by: Gasman1 | May 12, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Mitch has got to do better than his statement today about Kagan. that sort of vacuousness wears thin and demonstrates a lack of substantive opposition - other than, of course, opposition itself. You may want to take a quick read of a narratie about the political context in which kagan finds herself in the nominating process at THE KAGAN CHRONICLES:

Posted by: FunkUniversity | May 12, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

It's interesting that they appear to be dropping the experience argument.

Interesting, and really encouraging, actually. It'd be good to get to the point where facts actually matter to Republicans, Democrats, and reporters.

But wait: what did Sarah Palin say about Kagan?

And somewhat O/T, but her book, due out in November, sounds like a complete snoozer.

Posted by: CTVoter | May 12, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

"Obama himself isn't even a "partisan rubber stamp" for the liberals so why should we believe that his nominee to SCOTUS would be even more so?

Seriously. After a day of stories about how both the left and the right don't like Kagan, the Mitchster comes out with this line of attack?

Posted by: CTVoter | May 12, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

O/T: "BP releases first photo, video of massive oil leak in Gulf"

Read more:

Posted by: sbj3 | May 12, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

All, happy hour roundup posted:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | May 12, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

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