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Tag: Elena Kagan


GOP resistance is futile: Confirm Elena Kagan

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Here’s a nightmare scenario for Democrats: What if Elena Kagan is telling the truth?

In last week’s Senate hearings, President Obama’s soon-to-be-confirmed Supreme Court nominee testified she’s about the law, the whole law and nothing but the law. She may be a “progressive” Democrat, but she’ll be “on nobody’s team” once she dons the black robe.

Heaven forbid that she would bring any preferred outcomes to a case.

“I mean, the worst kind of thing you can say of a judge is he or she is results-oriented,” she told the Judiciary Committee. “It suggests that a judge is kind of picking sides irrespective of what the law requires. …

“The judge should be trying to figure out as best she can what the law requires and not going in and saying, ‘You know, I don’t really care about the law, you know, this side should win.’”

How can anyone quarrel with that? For that matter, how can any Republican quarrel with a nominee whose distinguished legal career includes no time as an actual judge and thus no paper trail of decisions that can confidently be attributed to her own judicial philosophy?
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Here’s something to like about Elena Kagan

A lot of pundits are saying that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is something of a cipher, that there’s not much on the record about her to give an idea of how she’d vote if she wins Senate confirmation and what her priorities would be on the bench.

That may be so, but if a picture is worth a thousand words, I think the record speaks volumes about what isn’t a priority for her: fashion.

While looking in our photo archives to find a shot to run with Tuesday’s George Will column, I noticed that Kagan

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Elena Kagan: Perfect nominee, no; qualified, yes

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Barack Obama is in a poor position to expect bipartisan deference to his Supreme Court picks, having voted as a senator against the confirmations of both John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

Still, the Senate ought to respect his nomination of U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan, barring evidence of intellectual deficiencies, extremism or character flaws.

Kagan doesn’t look vulnerable on any of those scores. She was vetted pretty thoroughly a year ago when the Senate approved her appointment as the U.S. government’s chief legal advocate. And she’s clearly got enough smarts for the high court.

She began her meteoric legal career by clerking for Justice Thurgood Marshall, then quickly ascended to full professor at the University of Chicago Law School. From there, she moved into high level positions in the Clinton administration, then became dean of Harvard Law School.

Kagan’s lack of experience as an actual judge is the most probable line of attack from Republicans. But her résumé is distinguished by any standard, and she’s intimately acquainted with the upper reaches of American law. If anything, she’s spent too much of her life flying in the legal stratosphere.
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Where did the Protestant justices go?

If Elena Kagan – a Jew – replaces Justice John Paul Stevens – a Protestant – on the Supreme Court, the court will consist of six Roman Catholics and three Jews. Protestantism, still the country’s majority religion, will be completely shut out for the first time in American history.

An obvious reason is that religious affiliation has become far less important in politics than it once was. As recently as 1960, Protestant clergymen were alarmed that John F. Kennedy would be in cahoots with the Vatican if elected president. (They should have been more worried about him being in cahoots with a string of floozies.)

But no one’s been seriously attacking presidential and Supreme Court nominees on the basis of religion as long as I can remember. Protestants – who split roughly between conservative evangelicals and members of more liberal “mainline” denominations – don’t speak with one voice, if they ever did. The evangelicals certainly don’t seem to be complaining about the five Catholics who constitute the conservative wing of the court. Whatever their theological differences, they can’t quarrel with results.

But why the disappearance of actual, certifiable Protestants? The mainline brand-name denominations – Episcopalians, Methodists, etc. – have been collectively shrinking in size and becoming far less of a factor in the country they once dominated.

Yet the ranks of evangelicals (I’m loosely including fundamentalists and Pentecostals) have been growing apace. Where the heck are they?
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