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Kagan Nominations Hearings Start Today

At 12:30 pm ET, Elana Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination hearing begins with opening statements from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Kagan’s opening statement will probably conclude the hearing today, and shouldn’t be expected until much later. Kagan will be introduced by Massacusetts Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown. Doug Kendall of the Constitutional Accountability Center will liveblog the hearings.

As I remarked yesterday, I can’t believe how muted the response has been to a Supreme Court nomination. It’s been the most invisible one I can remember in my lifetime. Obviously there have been other major issues that have cropped up and overshadowed the nomination, but Kagan seems to have a knack to be so inoffensive and low-profile as to engender almost no response. Even tomorrow, on the crucial first day of questioning, her hearing will be overshadowed by the confirmation hearing of David Petraeus for Afghan commander. Cable networks are more likely to cover the Petraeus hearing live.

This is occurring because there’s little doubt of Kagan’s impending confirmation; even Orrin Hatch dismissed any talk of a filibuster. But the Supreme Court plays such a powerful role in the lives of every American, you’d think the horse race, the will-she-or-won’t-she of confirmation, wouldn’t drive the discussion. You’d think people would want to know just who in the heck Elena Kagan is. After all, today we received multiple important Supreme Court decisions on the last day of the session, with the NRA winning a local gun rights case (hey, it’s about time that group got itself a win), a law school allowed to deny funding to a discriminatory Christian group, and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board basically struck down. These are important, crucial decisions, and who makes them matters.

It’s a shame that we have such little insight into Kagan before and during this process, and let’s face it, the hearings aren’t likely to improve this condition.

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David Dayen

David Dayen