Let the Games Begin!

Washington (CNN) — President Obama took a key step in cementing his judicial legacy Monday, nominating Solicitor General Elena Kagan to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court.

If confirmed, the 50-year-old Kagan will become the 112th Supreme Court justice. She would be the third woman on the nine-member bench and the fourth in the history of the court.


She served as a law clerk for federal judge Abner Mikva and then for Justice Thurgood Marshall on the high court. Marshall affectionately called the diminutive Kagan “Shorty.”

Original DVD cover

From The Dallas Morning News:

WASHINGTON – Texas Sen. John Cornyn sharply criticized Supreme Court nominee Solicitor General Elena Kagan today — hinting strongly that her lack of judicial experience, privileged background and role in Harvard’s efforts to bar military recruiters make it unlikely he will support her confirmation.

“The president says he wants to appoint somebody who will understand how the court’s decisions will impact regular people,” said Cornyn, a Republican who sits on the Judiciary Committee that will first consider Kagan’s nomination. “I don’t see how Ms. Kagan meets the president’s own standard. Her lack of experience as a practicing lawyer and a practicing judge are things that do not argue in her favor.”

Kagan is the administration’s top appellate attorney, and was the first female dean of the Harvard Law School. She has never served as a judge and had never argued a case before the Supreme Court before President Barack Obama tapped her last year as solicitor general.


Cornyn said Monday that a lack of judicial experience doesn’t automatically disqualify a person from serving on the Supreme Court. But his dwelling on the issue stands in contrast to his comments when President George W. Bush selected his former aide, Harriet Miers, for a court seat in 2005. Miers had also never been a judge, but Cornyn wrote a column in The Dallas Morning News that extolled Miers’ credentials – including her lack of judicial experience.

“Although she has no prior judicial experience, this was true for nearly 40 percent of the men and women who have served as Supreme Court justices,” he wrote of Miers, whose nomination was ultimately withdrawn amid stiff political opposition. “Indeed, rather than make her nomination less desirable, many of us believe that her long career in private practice will be to her credit.”


Cornyn, who also heads the GOP’s Senate campaign committee, voted against Kagan’s confirmation as solicitor general in March 2009.


He suggested that she wouldn’t be able to relate to regular Americans, because she comes from the “rarified atmosphere” of Harvard, where she earned her law degree, and the University of Chicago, where she previously was a professor.

“Ms. Kagan has spent her entire professional career in Harvard Square, Hyde Park, and the DC Beltway. These are not places where one learns how ordinary people live,” he said.

Cornyn took special exception to Kagan’s support of a lawsuit that would have barred military recruiters from Harvard’s campus because of concerns about the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy toward gays in uniform. Cornyn deemed that as a “lack of respect” to the military.


Along with Cornyn, fellow Texan Kay Bailey Hutchison and 29 other senators opposed Kagan’s confirmation as solicitor general.


Hutchison, who is not a member of the Judiciary Committee, said in a brief statement that she also had concerns about Kagan’s lack of judicial experience and her stance on the military recruiters on Harvard’s campus.


Of the handful of Supreme Court hopefuls said to be on President Obama’s short list, Elena Kagan was thought by the administration to be one of the safer picks: much less outspoken ideologically, and able throughout her career to swim among conservatives and liberals alike. That reasoning may have paid off on day one: GOP senators have been congratulatory, and in some cases positive, about her nomination. But, as is common for the minority during Supreme Court fights, they are leaving themselves plenty of room to revisit their position, if and when they decide to turn the debate over the nomination into a full-bore political fight.

Take for instance Republican Whip Jon Kyl, who cast doubt on the likelihood that Republicans will obstruct Kagan’s confirmation, telling reporters this afternoon, “there won’t be a Republican position. It’s hard for me to see–though we have to look at all her record–that there would be grounds for filibustering her nomination.”

Without endorsing her, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) called Kagan a ‘strong candidate.


And Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who has been praising Kagan to reporters for weeks, also issued a positive statement.

But that’s just one side of the coin. Just after downplaying the possibility of a filibuster, Kyl listed a series of bones the GOP will pick with her. “Different members will have different views about the importance of her position on military recruiting, about the relative lack of experience, and about information we don’t yet have relative to her service in the Clinton administration,” he said.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell went further still, telling ABC News, “It’s way too early to be making a decision about the issue of whether there should be a 60 vote threshold on the nominee.”


For the uninitiated, this is a common opening move–the King’s Pawn of Supreme Court fights. It gives Republicans the flexibility to decide in the days and weeks ahead whether they want to throw everything in their arsenal at her, or to allow for a relatively smooth confirmation process.

The fact of the matter is, Kagan is overwhelmingly likely to be confirmed in the end. Thus far, only one senator–James Inhofe (R-OK)–has announced his opposition.

But Republicans understand the political value in drawing out a Supreme Court fight, even when the nominee isn’t overwhelmingly objectionable to them. And perhaps the most telling sign of where Republicans plan to take this fight comes from Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee where Kagan will have her first hearing. Sessions raised a series of objections to Kagan, calling her lack of judicial experience “troubling,” and in an appearance on CNN earlier today, he called her opposition to allowing the military to recruit on the Harvard campus “unacceptable.”


Filed under Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Chimpy, Democrats, Gay rights, George W. Bush, Harriet Miers, humor, James Inhofe, Jon Kyl, Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, movies, Olympia Snowe, parody, politics, Republicans, Senate Judiciary Committee, snark, Supreme Court, Wordpress Political Blogs

25 responses to “Let the Games Begin!

  1. writechic

    Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions made the Raisin! What’s he against? I’m certain to be for it. :mrgreen:

    At least Sessions had the decency to back of the RNC’s criticism that Thurgood Marshall was a bad man for saying a Constitution that did not afford rights to blacks and women is defective. Kagan (and other people with hearts and brains) support Marshall’s view.

  2. Cornyn was for non judge supreme court justices, before he was against them?

    I’d say he’s had too much of the Kool aid

    Cornyn took special exception to Kagan’s support of a lawsuit that would have barred military recruiters from Harvard’s campus because of concerns about the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy toward gays in uniform. Cornyn deemed that as a “lack of respect” to the military.

    >>>>> I applaud that move 100%. The DADT rule in the military violates Federal Equal Rights provision.
    I hate the fact they use our tax money (obscene amount) to recruit innocent college kids to be pawns for the military industrial complex & are free to discriminate while doing so.

    • i just said the same thing in my answer to your comment in the last post. kagan’s perfect argument is that she was following the letter of the law. would the rethugs rather she broke the law?

      don’t be too hard on john cornyn. he’s just pissy, because he misses all his relatives on easter island. 😉

  3. “Two middle fingers up!”

    Yes, that’s exactly my review of the GOP’s performance on this nomination so far. Mind you, it’s early. I’m sure they’ll do worse.

  4. You must understand our dynamic duo of Corny & Kay (sounds like old vaudeville act) only excell in the extremes of assholyness and assholedness.

    • writechic

      “Assholyness!” I’ll have to remember that one, Jerry. 😀

    • Why do these Republican obstructionist assholes even bother to come up with excuses for voting against anything and everything that Obama has ever suggested?
      They should save themselves the strain of having to think of new reasons and just record a standard reaction to everything the Democrats suggest:
      “Nope. We ain’t gonna vote fer it, just ’cause we don’t wanna.”
      It’s not like anyone would ask why.

  5. Corny is as predictable as they come. He votes in favor of Big Energy and against the environment every time. He’s a darling of the NRA and scores a 0% with League of Conservation Voter’s scorecard.companies. In spite of his serious objections to Kagan barring military recruiters from Harvard he had no problem voting against the post 9/11 GI Bill which extended benefits to vets of Iraq and Afghanistan. I guess that’s another republican supporting the troops. He’s also anti-gay marriage, a fetus lover, voted to confirm Alito and Roberts but against Sotomayer. Anyone surprised he’d shoot his mouth off against a middle of the road choice like Kagan ? These guys are like caricatures.

    • i think it’s hilarious that he’s being outed for saying exactly the opposite of what he’s saying now when harriet miers was nominated. these guys really don’t understand the concept of video tape.

  6. the whole process has become another episode of Night Court.

    these guys truly have no idea how stupid they are – McConnellchinless being the biggest douchebag of them all

    i was so pissed at mcconnell i wrote him an email and used a fake kentucky zip so they wouldnt delete — i asked if he had kling-ons caught in his chin

    • night court or just a game of madlibs (ironically named for these purposes, it should be madcons)? it’s just fill-in-the-blank politics. whomever obama had picked would have been bad in the rethugs’ eyes. it doesn’t matter if they complete contradict themselves.

      😆 let me know if yertle lets you know about the kling-ons. next time, ask him how he changes pillowcases, too.

  7. Pingback: A Few of My Favorite Zings | HYSTERICAL RAISINS