Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic:
KAGAN: Supreme Court confirmation hearings begin for Elena Kagan. They are expected to be the opposite of nasty and brutish, and with the former senior senator from Delaware now occupying his time elsewhere, they will be short. (That is, of course, a kind-hearted jab.) Kagan’s active participation in Clinton-era policy debates and the controversy over Harvard’s military recruitment policy will no doubt be flashpoints, but they’ll be of little consequence. Kagan’s confirmation is virtually assured.
Solicitor General Elena Kagan pledged on Monday that if the Senate confirms her nomination to the Supreme Court, she will adopt a “modest” stance toward her power and will be “properly deferential” to the policy decisions of Congress and the president, according to excerpts from her prepared opening statement released by the White House.
On the first day of her confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ms. Kagan referred to the years she spent in the other branches of government — including four years in the White House during the Clinton administration — to reassure lawmakers she would not trample on the role of elected political leaders.
The democratic process “is often messy and frustrating, but the people of this country have great wisdom, and their representatives work hard to protect their interests,” she said. “The Supreme Court, of course, has the responsibility of ensuring that our government never oversteps its proper bounds or violates the rights of individuals. But the court must also recognize the limits on itself and respect the choices made by the American people.”
Jay Newton-Small at Swampland at Time:
Day 1 is done in Solicitor General Elena Kagan’s hearings to become the 112th Supreme Court justice. Thus far there has been relatively little about Kagan herself. In between memorials for Senator Bobby Byrd and Sandra Day O’Connor’s husband, Republicans griped that no matter what Kagan says, they don’t think they’ll be able to trust her responses given their experience with Sonia Sotomayor last year. Sotomayor’s answers, Senator Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, were bland and reassuring. “And now she’s demonstrated herself to be one of the most liberal activist justices on the court,” Sessions told reporters during a break in Monday’s proceedings. Kagan, he asserted, would do the same no matter what questions they pose of her.
John McCormack at The Weekly Standard:
“As Kagan confirmation hearings begin, Republicans struggle for line of attack.” That’s the headline of today’s Washington Post front-page report by Anne Kornblut and Paul Kane on the Elena Kagan hearings. Isn’t it strange how a story by objective Washington Post reporters mirrors the opinion of the Democratic president?
The analysis that the news cycle has crowded out stories on Kagan is fair enough, but the reporters go out of their way to dismiss Republican criticism of Kagan. If you doubt that this story, which neatly frames hapless Republicans versus a near-perfect nominee, is biased, consider this: Kagan’s discrimination against military recruiters at Harvard is never once explicitly mentioned. Kornblut and Kane merely allude to the discrimination: “Republicans have tried to make an issue of her years as law dean at Harvard.” You see, whatever it is that Kagan did at Harvard is not really an issue–Republicans are simply trying to “make an issue” out of nothing.
Never mind that liberal writer Peter Beinart called Kagan’s discrimination against the military her “Achilles heel” and wrote: “Barring the military from campus is a bit like barring the president or even the flag. It’s more than a statement of criticism; it’s a statement of national estrangement.” And never mind that Jeff Sessions, ranking Republican on the judiciary committee, laid out the case against Kagan last week, arguing that it was hypocritical of Kagan to discriminate against the military while keeping quiet about the Saudi gifts Harvard was receiving.
Places, places everyone.
Today, the curtain officially opens on the Senate “battle” over Obama Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. “Battle” gets ghost quotes because all the poohbahs on Capitol Hill are already treating her confirmation as a “foregone conclusion.”
Beltway Republicans will put up just enough of a fight to placate grass-roots conservative activists on Kagan’s radical social views, while the nutroots will pout (but not too loudly) that Kagan isn’t enough of a liberal activist for them. And GOP Sen. Lindsay Graham, after several minutes of obligatory grandstanding mixed with obsequious suck-uppage, will cast his vote with Kagan and Obama — as he did with Sonia Sotomayor (whom he praised as “bold” and edgy”).
Erick Erickson at Redstate:
Internal Senate emails confirmed by NRA Board Members are highlighting just how far the National Rifle Association has fallen.
The organization recently collaborated with the left to obtain a carve out of the DISCLOSE Act, legislation designed to silence bloggers and outside interest groups like tea party activists. This was a first amendment issue and the NRA gladly took a position and campaigned for its members to take a position on the DISCLOSE Act.
One of the NRA’s chief arguments was that it needed the carve out to be effective in its advocacy of Second Amendment issues. But here’s the problem: these internal Senate emails confirmed by NRA Board Members show that the National Rifle Association’s management team has explicitly and directly told the NRA’s board they are prohibited from testifying about second amendment issues during the Elena Kagan confirmation hearings.
That’s right: the foremost gun rights lobby in the nation is prohibiting its board from testifying in the Elena Kagan confirmation hearings about the second amendment.
The NRA did issue a statement on Friday after the internal Senate email began leaking out informing people of the gag order. The statement noted Kagan’s problematic record on guns, but that’s just smoke and mirrors. Don’t believe them when they say they are working with Senators to investigate her record. If they were really working with Senators, they would have accepted an invitation to testify on the Kagan nomination when they were invited. The gag order on board members is not limited to providing testimony, but it prohibits board members from coming out against Kagan in their individual capacity.