Patrick Leahy gives the news:

At a hearing Wednesday morning, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced that proceedings to consider the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to be an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court will begin on June 28.

“This is a reasonable schedule that is in line with past practice,” said Leahy. “Last year, we proceeded with the hearing on the nomination of Justice Sotomayor 48 days after she was designated. Senate Republicans said that hearing was fair, and was conducted fairly. This year, I am scheduling the hearing to start 49 days after the nomination was announced.”

Key Republicans like John Cornyn and Jon Kyl have already said Republicans wouldn’t filibuster Kagan, which is not true – they’ll require 60 votes just as a function of delaying. But the hearings don’t look like they’ll generate much fireworks, given the foregone conclusion.

Kagan’s long questionnaire to the Senate Judiciary Committee was released yesterday. It includes writings like her graduate thesis, where she argued that the Supreme Court must have their rulings rooted in legal principles if they wanted to steer the law to achieve particular social means.

“Judicial opinions may well appeal to the ethical sense — but this alone is not enough,” she wrote. “In order to achieve some measure of permanence in an ever-fluctuating political and social order, judicial decisions must be plausibly rooted in either the Constitution or another accepted source of law.”

I assume this will get distorted by Republicans and become a big to-do in the hearings. Whether any piercing questions will come from the left about Kagan’s threadbare writings and unknown positions on key issues is less clear.

David Dayen

David Dayen