Judiciary Committee Puts Kagan One Step Closer To Supreme Court

The Senate Judiciary Committee just voted 13-6 to confirm Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court. Lindsey Graham was her only Republican supporter, and many others were worried she was a liberal "activist" who hated marriage and the military.

In a two-and-a-half-hour hearing that tested at least this lay-person's patience and tolerance for blather, Democrats uniformly voiced their support for Kagan while Republicans almost exclusively expressed their displeasure. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) was the only exception, voting for Kagan not because he'd suddenly become a liberal — he reaffirmed, 'I'm very pro-life" — but because of his confidence in her qualifications and in Obama's decision to nominate her. Graham said, "She will serve this nation honorably. It would not have been someone I would have chosen, but the person who did choose, President Obama, did choose wisely."

Meanwhile, back in party-line-world, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) criticized Kagan's "lack of robust legal experience" (unlike the other Supreme Court justices, she's never been a judge), and charged that she'd restricted military recruiters from Harvard Law School as a way of "punishing" the military for Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was concerned that Kagan had "a liberal-outcome-based approach to legal analysis," and that on the Supreme Court, her vote would be "a rubber stamp for the unconstitutional laws" that restrict personal freedoms. Oddly, he was also concerned with her role as Solicitor General in undermining the Defense of Marriage Act, which restricted gay people's freedom to marry. But as Al Franken noted last month, activist judging goes both ways. Republicans use the term to disparage liberal judges — and it came up again and again in today's hearing. Franken, however, pointed out,

There is such a thing as legislating from the bench. And it is practiced repeatedly by the Roberts Court, where it has cut in only one direction: in favor of powerful corporate interests, and against the rights of individual Americans. In the next few days, I want to continue this conversation. Because I think things have only gotten worse. And so I want to say one thing to the Minnesotans watching at home: With few exceptions, whether you're a worker, a pensioner, a small business owner, a woman, a voter, or a person who drinks water, your rights are harder to defend today than they were five years ago.

Let's hope that if Kagan is confirmed by the full Senate in August — and there's every reason to think that she will be — defending Americans' rights will get a little bit easier.

Supreme Court Elena Kagan Confirmed By Senate Judiciary Committee In 13-6 Vote [LA Times]
Republicans Slam Marshall For Activism, But Al Franken Says It Is Conservatives Who Are ‘Legislating From The Bench' [Democratic Daily]
US Sen Graham: Kagan Passed Tests To Be On Supreme Court [Automated Trader]