No Answers From Kagan?

When I had a spare moment today, I watched the Spain-Portugal World Cup game (Spain won 1-0.) So I watched none of the Kagan confirmation hearings. I just read this report on the hearings:

Under questioning by the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, Ms. Kagan said she thought it would be inappropriate for her to talk about how she might rule on pending cases or cases “that might come before the court in the future” — or to answer questions that were “veiled” efforts to get at such issues. Moreover, she said, she also now believed that “it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to talk about past cases” by essentially grading Supreme Court precedents, because those issues, too, might someday come again before the court.

Some Republicans seemed willing to give Ms. Kagan a pass on her retreat from her 1995 standard about how open and specific nominees should be about their legal views. “I really don’t have any major disagreement with where she’s drawn the line,” Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, said during a break.

I'll read the transcript to see, but if I were a Senator, I would not accept the position Kagan has taken. I would vote No on bringing the nomination to the floor until the nominee answered the questions. But it seems clear that I am in the minority on this point.

Speaking for me only

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    Well (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by squeaky on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 05:44:07 PM EST
    I missed it too, but WaPo had another take:

    But on the second day of her confirmation hearing, Kagan said on several occasions that she had come around to seeing the merits of preserving the limits on corporate spending on elections.

    "When I walked up to that podium for Citizens United, I thought we had extremely strong arguments. I was acting as an advocate but I thought we had very strong arguments," she said in response to a question from Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.).

    It is unusual these days for Supreme Court nominees to comment on recent rulings, and by that standard Kagan has been expansive in her testimony. However, as Specter sought to coax her into even stronger disapproval of the ruling, asking whether she found it "disrespectful" for the court to overrule an act of Congress, Kagan demurred. "I don't want to characterize what the Supreme Court did," she said.

    and the short time at Harvard when Military had no sponsor at (because the veterans group turned down Kagan's offer) recruitment increased pretty ironic, imo:

    During the winter-spring semester in 2005, military recruiters did continue to meet in Cambridge with Harvard Law students, and the number of students recruited that year happened to increase. But the recruiters had those meetings without any official sponsor within the law school.

    NYT: She Balked (none / 0) (#16)
    by squeaky on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 08:55:53 PM EST
    Ms. Kagan's responses, during a long and sometimes tense day of parrying with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, were similar to those of Supreme Court nominees past....

    And Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, complained in an interview: "She's doing exactly what she criticized other nominees for doing. She's dancing."

    Charlie Savage

    Oh well, WaPo says better than before and NYT more of the same...  


    SCOTUS Schmotus... (none / 0) (#1)
    by Dadler on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 03:29:55 PM EST
    ...it's steak tartar night at the Senate dining room.

    If true, that winks and nods are apparently enough, then why even waste the time? Then again, wasting and squandering seems standard operating procedure.

    Ms. Kagen did opine it is sometimes (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 04:40:54 PM EST
    useful for SCOTUS to look at "foreign" law.

    That's mildly exciting (none / 0) (#3)
    by observed on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 04:52:11 PM EST
    I meant to say, that gives me a (none / 0) (#4)
    by observed on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 05:14:08 PM EST

    careful, (none / 0) (#8)
    by cpinva on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 07:49:21 PM EST
    i believe that's illegal in va.

    What a waste of time (none / 0) (#6)
    by Saul on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 06:03:31 PM EST
    Kagan is correct it is a charade.  

    Why even go through this exercise.  

    Once a president picks his nominee with very few exceptions we already know who is going to vote or not vote in the senate for the nominee even before the confirmation hearings.  

    In Kagan's case most republicans senators  if not all will vote no and most democrats if not all will vote yes.  

    I doubt if the hearings sway a no vote to a yes vote and vice a versa.

    law professor and Harvard Dean (none / 0) (#7)
    by diogenes on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 06:19:02 PM EST
    If she cannot state her opinion as Harvard Law School Dean as to various PAST Supreme Court rulings, then what good is her past alleged "experience" to anyone?

    Proves she'll be a team player (none / 0) (#10)
    by Yes2Truth on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 08:06:03 PM EST

    Kagan's vote may well represent most people, when it comes to relatively minor social issues, but
    when it comes to protecting the interest of the rich, big companies, Wall street, the military/security/intelligence complex, politicians,
    and the Po Po, she'll be their protector.

    And most liberals will cheer her all the way.
    Conservative critics of her are merely expressing
    their frustration that she isn't even more conservative/right-wing.


    i made this very point (none / 0) (#9)
    by cpinva on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 07:54:45 PM EST
    on another site (and even quoted BTD, the gods forgive me!), annointing the confirmation hearing nothing more than a dog & pony show, in the absence of any substantive responses from the nominee.

    that said, sen. jeff "call me "deliverance"" sessions, is no less of an idiot, because of his inane ranting.

    Who cares if she answers the questions? (none / 0) (#11)
    by steviez314 on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 08:09:43 PM EST
    The answers aren't binding commitments.

    Let's say she swore on a stack of bibles that  "I will vote to uphold Roe v Wade".

    And then in 2 years, she doesn't.  What can anyone do about it?  Nothing.

    The whole exercise is pointless.

    It reflects back on Obama, who will (none / 0) (#12)
    by observed on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 08:15:17 PM EST
    quite likely make more SCOTUS appointments.
    Kagan knows this---no nominee with any integrity (yeah, that rules out Alito and Roberts)
    would flagrantly go against their pre-SCOTUS words.
    In the case of those two, I think there was ample evidence they were not trustworthy. If Kagan has a demonstrated good character, that matters.

    Abolish Congressional hearings!! (none / 0) (#13)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 08:37:59 PM EST
    You did realize how silly your comment is don't you?

    No, it just means the questions have to be (none / 0) (#15)
    by steviez314 on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 08:55:17 PM EST
    creative and clever, and you have to work much harder than you'd like to find out what a nominee thinks.

    It's just always going to be a much more subtle exercise than you want.  But explicit questions as to past cases or future ones are silly.

    I'd rather have psychoanalysts review the transcripts than have Congress ask questions.


    Heh (none / 0) (#17)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 09:19:15 PM EST
    I spent my time watching the Petraeus (none / 0) (#14)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 08:53:42 PM EST
    confirmation hearing, but I did check in on the Kagan.  Other than Jeff Sessions, she seems to me like she is a done deal and they are only going through the motions.  I think that shortening those up are what is on everyone's agenda.

    Why not ask if she agrees with Souter's (none / 0) (#19)
    by BobTinKY on Wed Jun 30, 2010 at 09:33:45 AM EST
    recent observations at HLS.  Do facts over time alter one's view of what is or isn;t Constitutional?  I thought Souters analysis of the changes in society between Plessy and Brown was as apt an illustration of this essential truth as anything I have ever read.  And I do not believe Souter's views will presented as an issue to the Court.

    If she (or any future nominee) agrees with Souter, I'd vote to confirm, if not I wouldn't.  I don't think Scalia, Thomas, Alito or Roberts would agree with Souter.

    In my dreams... (none / 0) (#20)
    by DancingOpossum on Wed Jun 30, 2010 at 10:16:00 AM EST
    They would also inquire into Kagan's stated admiration of Israeli Supreme Court Judge Aharon Barak, whom Kagan named as her "judicial hero" and someone who "best advanced the values of democracy and human rights."


    Who is Barak? In Beyond Chutzpah, Norman Finkelstein says that Aharon Barak was "a leading proponent" of guidelines allowing torture-- making Israel the "only country in the world where torture was legally sanctioned," according to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem. He also gave a green light to administrative detentions, even as the judge conceded, "there is probably no State in the Western world that permits an administrative detention of someone who does not himself pose any danger to State security."

    And he approved the barrier wall that crosses through occupied territory, of which Finkelstein says:

        If all branches of Israeli government and society bear responsibility for this impending catastrophe [the end of the two-state solution], the share of the HCJ and especially its liberal chief justice, Aharon Barak, is relatively larger. Due to its moral authority the HCJ was in a unique position to sensitize the Israeli public. Beyond helping fend off external criticism of Israel's annexationist policies, the HCJ chose to mute the collective Israeli conscience.

    Of course Finkelstein was denied tenure at DePaul not long after he published that book.

    Mondoweiss has the whole ugly story: