CommunityThe Bullpen

Specter to Support Kagan, Assuring Passage

Not that passage wasn’t assured before, but Arlen Specter’s grudging support of Elena Kagan’s confirmation to the Supreme Court virtually ensures no Democratic defectors. Specter, during the confirmation hearings, expressed concern over Kagan’s lack of answers to his questions, but he concludes that she barely cleared the bar needed for his support. Specter’s remarks in the USA Today op-ed make it sound like he really didn’t want to vote for Kagan, but for some reason was compelled to.

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan did little to undo the impression that nominating hearings are little more than a charade in which cautious non-answers take the place of substantive exchanges […]

It may be understandable that she said little after White House coaching and the continuing success of stonewalling nominees. But it is regrettable. Some indication of her judicial philosophy may be gleaned by her self-classification as a “progressive” and her acknowledged admiration for Justice Thurgood Marshall. That suggests she would uphold congressional fact-finding resulting in remedial legislation and protect individual rights in the congressional-executive battles.

The best protection of those values may come from the public’s understanding through television of the court’s tremendous power in deciding the nation’s critical questions. In addition to her intellect, academic and professional qualifications, Kagan did just enough to win my vote by her answers that television would be good for the country and the court, and by identifying Justice Marshall as her role model.

So for future reference, all you have to do in a confirmation hearing to win support from skeptics is say that you wouldn’t mind a camera in the Supreme Court. That’s all. Your views on corporate campaign spending, warrantless wiretapping, the Violence Against Women Act, the right to choose, and current terrorism policies don’t matter.

Kagan’s nomination will finally get a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee next week.

Previous post

The Dangers of Going Local

Next post

Weekly Diaspora: Suing, Protesting, and Boycotting Arizona over SB 1070

David Dayen

David Dayen