Show Time: Kagan Hearings Begin Today

Today the Senate will begin one of the longest running Kabuki shows in history. Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee for her confirmation hearings — a process long ridiculed for its ritualized and exaggerated content. The big question is whether Kagan will abandon her previously stated position that nominees should have to answer substantive questions on their views — a rejection of the so-called “Ginsburg Rule.” I will be commenting on the confirmation process at noon on MSNBC and later on Countdown.

I have previously criticized the modern confirmation process as an increasingly ridiculous exercise. Recently, in writing a column on the nine top justices, I opined how unlikely it is that our current process will yield another Brandeis or Story. I have also written columns against the Ginsburg Rule. Kagan herself as a ” vapid and hollow charade” but proceeded to backtrack on that principled position when she faced confirmation as Solicitor General. She is expected to invoke the same rule to refuse to delve into her views in some areas this week.

Kagan is likely to be attacked on her role in banning military recruiters from the Harvard Law School career services office while Dean of Harvard Law School.

Republicans are lining up for a showdown. She appears headed toward confirmation, though Democrats have lost one vote for confirmation in the death last night of Senator Harry Byrd of West Virginia.

On a side and sad note, Justice Ginsburg has lost her husband, Martin Ginsburg who was a highly respected professor of law at Georgetown.

Source: ABC.

26 thoughts on “Show Time: Kagan Hearings Begin Today”

  1. W=c,

    Because she’s a political opportunist and her methods and story change with the wind. For example, she’s backed down from the earlier statements about both Bush v. Gore and “the Ginsberg Rule”. I don’t find that kind of waffling, especially in the case of Bush v. Gore where the Supremes blatantly appointed a President and way overstepped their Constitutional authority, to be a good thing in a Justice. Also I find her favoring state secrets and her stated stance on the 1st Amendment just more fodder for Robert’s fascist machinations. Considering the corporatist leanings of the Court that resulted in the ridiculous and blatantly unconstitutional Citizens United ruling, she is neither liberal enough (note the small “l” trolls) nor consistent enough in her own pronouncements to be an effective counter-balance to the Roberts-Scalia-Thomas-Ailito cabal of “Corporate Personality Over Citizen Rights”. If she had not fallen into the Ginsberg and been consistent of her condemnation of Bush v. Gore, I might be willing to give her a chance. But now? I don’t believe she’s demonstrated the character to take her assertions of her political neutrality in future rulings at face value.

  2. “Further evidence Kagan is unfit for SCOTUS:”

    Why BIL; she seems to have an awareness of a very clear line between bare knuckle politics and judicial discrimination in decision making. I should think this would be an asset and very desireable to SCOTUS, especially now when some of their decisions seem to be more politically than constitutionally motivated…

  3. Tootles,

    You’re hatred is music to my ears. Especially since you have a no evidence of your claims where as I do.

    1) I’m not “Christophobic” but I do think fundamentalism of any stripe is a form of mental illness and that ailment has a poster child in you. I’ve said many times I think Christ was a wise teacher but that many of his followers are idiots distorting his basic teaching that “God is Love” into “God is Hate and/or Greed”. Hatred like homophobia. God loves all his children, not just the ones you approve (very few) of or understand (also very few). Just like in your politics, in your religion you are a divider, not a uniter.

    2) I stipulate I am bigoted against the willfully ignorant and bigots proper. The intolerance of intolerance is a virtue, not a vice. Your constant neo-Christian theocratic blather and homophobia tells me that intolerance of you and your type of “Christian” is indeed a virtue. And there are lots of virtuous people here who smack you down on a regular basis. Unless you have more homophobic zealotry to spew. In which case, you’ll just be further illustrating that someone who would say “This is wonderful” to a girl being denied entry to her school of choice because of her parent’s sexual orientation (not even her “sin” by your “rules”, but her parent’s) ends up being pretty much universally reviled at a blog dedicated to free speech and independent thought.

    3) Fascist? ROFLOL. Oh yeah. Good luck selling that nonsense, lil’ twisted one. There are only hundreds if not thousands of posts that prove I am anti-fascist just as there are hundreds of posts proving you don’t even know what “fascism” is.

    Now run along. The adults are having a conversation.

  4. Woosty: I’m not a loon. Loons are leftists who loathe the Constitution, promote the slaughter of innocent distinct human organisms before birth, and advocate police-state totalitarianism.

  5. Don’t forget, Tootie is also a homophobic bigoted zealot too as demonstrated by previous postings.

  6. I guess they want more of Meme in there but with a token black man, it hard to say that with a clear conscience unless you are Clarence Thomas. Then alls you have is an Oreo…..

  7. I’d love to see Ms Kagan remind the Senators from the Repugnant Party that the Democrats have plenty enough votes to confirm her so she will refuse to answer their theatrical grandstanding questions. Freakin’ hypocrites.

  8. For folks watching the hearings, I have a hypothesis – let me know if it appears to explain what’s going on:

    The vast majority of Republicans are fundamentally disingenuous about doing what’s best for our country, and are primarily focused on political power whatever the cost. In regards to the Kagan nomination, when these guys talk in the hearing, 100% of what they are saying is aimed not at any real assessment of the nominee, but rather at their base vis-a-vis the November election: to rev up the base to get them to volunteer, donate and go out to vote.

    (Yes, some of them are deeply heartfelt ideologues, racists, fundamentalists, and so on. And yes, some Democrats are similarly disingenuous, but I’m proposing that my hypothesis explains the vast majority of what Republicans will say in relation to Kagan.)

    Someone let me know if this seems to explain the vitriol and incoherent blathering or not.

  9. “…death last night of Senator Harry Byrd of West Virginia.”

    sad now

    Senator Byrd was olde school honorable and while I didn’t agree w/his early career mindset he redeemed himself in my mind over the last few years…

    from Wikipedia;
    On July 19, 2007, Byrd, a self-described dog lover, gave a 25-minute passionate speech in the Senate against dog fighting, in response to the indictment of football player Michael Vick.

    On May 19, 2008, Byrd released a statement endorsing Barack Obama (D-Illinois) for President of the United States.

    On January 26, 2009, Byrd was one of only three Democrats to vote against the confirmation of Timothy Geithner to be United States Secretary of the Treasury

    Although his health was poor, Byrd was present for all of the crucial votes during the Senate’s December 2009 health care debate; his vote was necessary so that the Democrats could obtain cloture to break a Republican filibuster.

    Byrd opposed Bush’s tax cuts and his proposals to change the Social Security program.

    He is pro-choice…

    Byrd opposed the 2002 law creating the Department of Homeland Security, saying it ceded too much authority to the executive branch.

    He led a filibuster against the resolution granting President George W. Bush broad power to wage a “preemptive” war against Iraq,

    He also led the opposition to Bush’s bid to win back the power to negotiate trade deals that Congress cannot amend…

    Byrd was one of the Senate’s most outspoken critics of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

  10. More Kagan nastiness. This time, directed at free speech and pornography.


    “We should be looking for new approaches, devising new arguments,” Kagan declared, according to video of the event reviewed by POLITICO. She seemed to count herself among “those of us who favor some form of pornography and hate speech regulation” and told participants that “a great deal can be done very usefully” to crack down on such evils.

    “Statutes may be crafted in ways that prohibit the worst of hate speech and pornography, language that goes to sexual violence. Such statutes may still be constitutional,” Kagan assured the meeting. She pressed for “new and harsher penalties against the kinds of violence against women that takes place in producing pornography, the use of pandering statutes and pimp statutes against pornographers…perhaps the initiation—the enactment of new statutes prohibiting the hiring of women for commercial purposes to engage in sexual activities.”

    First, “hate” is subjective. There is no legal remedy for hate speech that is effective and incapable of prosecutorial abuse. There are only educational and sociological solutions to that problem.

    Second, “the enactment of new statutes prohibiting the hiring of women for commercial purposes to engage in sexual activities.” That statement is simply ridiculous in light of the facts of human sexuality. Hunting and agriculture are the only professions older than prostitution. To her professed approach I say, “Good luck with that.” What it would result in is porn going underground like the drug trade, increasing the producers and distributors profits by criminalizing behavior that’s going to continue with or without government intervention. Again, there is no legal remedy for pornography that is effective and incapable of prosecutorial abuse. There are only educational and sociological solutions to that problem.

  11. “Screw ’em both.”


    There’s a simple beauty in your statement. Oh, and I concur.

  12. All the Senators have been to make-up … their questions and comments have been fully scripted by their respective party screenwriters and they have run all their lines with their acting coaches. No one will go off message.

    The only difference will appear in their tie selections which will not be an indication of individual preference but rather a mark of each one’s focus group’s research.

    The candidate fully understands that these hearings have nothing to do with her or with the job to which she aspires. She knows that she is merely a prop around which the Senators will spin and preen and sparkle.

    It’s all sound and fury signifying nothing.

    I will watch for awhile and then Sessions will say something totally ignorant in that disgusting put on drawl, my stomach will turn, and I will know I can’t abide anymore. Maybe I’ll read about it later, maybe not.

    What a farce.

  13. Prediction? Close to zero, AY. She’s going to go Ginsberg early.


    Now, Kagan has to decide whether she will use the same tactics she derided when she appears at her own hearing.

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she brought up Kagan’s criticisms of her predecessors’ testimony during a private visit in the senator’s office. “What I said is, ‘I trust you are going to be a paragon of exactly the opposite of what you wrote about,'” which Feinstein said brought laughs from both women.

    Kagan already has started backing away from her own statements. During her confirmation for her solicitor general job last year, she said she sees things differently now that she’s older, no longer on the Senate staff and — most importantly — someone who herself faces confirmation.

    “I wrote that when I was in a position of sitting where the staff is now sitting, and feeling a little bit frustrated … that I really wasn’t understanding completely what the judicial nominee in front of me meant, and what she thought,” Kagan said in her 2009 hearing.

    Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said he reminded Kagan on her recent visit to his office, “You know, you’re going to have to live by the Kagan standard, which you established.”

    He said the Supreme Court nominee replied, “Well, the world looks a little different from this vantage point.”

    That doesn’t matter to some senators.

    Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., announced his opposition to Kagan on the same day she was nominated, saying he was “concerned about the seeming contempt she has demonstrated in her comments about the Senate confirmation process.” [emphasis added]

    That sounds an awful lot like Obama. “I’ll restore the rule of law!” became “I think I’ll keep these illegal powers because things look different from here.”

    Screw ’em both.

  14. How many licks can she take before she backs down on the Ginsburg comment?

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