Clashing views, votes on Kagan
She’s a liar, a political hack and unprepared.
Reduced to the most basic elements, that's essentially what Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said about Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote this morning. Take, for example, this Sessions offering: “The nominee lacks the experience, the intellectual rigor that you develop from the full time practice of law or from serving as a judge. She’s had neither of those experiences. And I think it showed in her testimony. You may not agree. In my opinion her testimony lacked the clarity, the strict intellectual honesty that I think we should look for in a nomination to the Supreme Court.”
As Seth Myers of Saturday Night Live might say, “Really? Really?" Did Sessions and I watch the same proceedings? I don’t understand how he can say with a straight face that Kagan performed poorly at the hearings. She tap danced around answers the way every modern nominee does, but she showed a mastery of the subject matter, whether discussing the First Amendment, executive power or the commerce clause. And she provided significant insight on how she would approach the job of judging.
But Kagan could have hit a grand slam, completed a hat trick, and performed in a manner worthy of every sports metaphor known to man and Sessions probably would have voted against her. Why? Because he doesn’t want a (likely) liberal on the court. It’s that simple. (The final Judiciary Committee vote was 13-6, with every Republican voting no except for South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham.)
Now, contrast Session’s near-ad hominems with the critique by Graham, who praised Kagan as smart, funny and well-qualified. Graham made clear that Kagan would not have been his choice had he been asked to pick a successor to retired Justice John Paul Stevens. For starters, Graham said, she’s a liberal; what else would you expect from a Democratic president? But he voted for her anyway.
Like it or not, he said, elections have consequences, and the person who wins the right to occupy the White House also wins the right to name justices to the high court. The Senate should confirm these nominees unless they display a serious professional or ethical infirmity and senators have no business voting against a nominee because of her judicial philosophy unless it lies far, far outside of the mainstream. While “judicial activism” became a buzzword during the hearings, Graham raised the possibility that lawmakers had become “legislative activists” by trying to usurp the president’s prerogatives in choosing nominees that reflect his judicial philosophy. And this “activism” cuts both ways. Just wait until a Republican regains the White House and watch how quickly Democrats change their tune.
| July 20, 2010; 3:37 PM ET
Categories: Rodriguez | Tags: Eva Rodriguez
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