Editorials and Opinion
Editorial: Senate should confirm Kagan, then kill hearings (Dallas Morning News, 07/14/10)
" A number of legal conservatives have lined up behind the former solicitor general, including former special prosecutor Kenneth Starr and Stanford Law School professor Michael McConnell. We doubt they would back a wild-eyed radical out to remake the Constitution.
We also prefer the fact that she has not been a sitting judge, as every other member of the current Supreme Court had been before reaching this bench. Perhaps her background will help bring just a whiff of diversity of experience."
Editorial: Kagan seems worthy of Senate confirmation (Des Moines Register [IA] , 07/13/10)
"Nothing in the record so far suggests there is any reason why the committee should not forward this nominee to the full Senate with a recommendation that she be confirmed.... Any doubts about Kagan's fitness should have been eased during several days of hearings before the Judiciary Committee, in which she demonstrated a firm command of constitutional law and principles. If she accomplished nothing else, her testimony should have reassured the senators that she respects the proper role of judges to assess the meaning of the law and the Constitution, not to impose their personal prejudices or political views on the law.:
Senate should confirm Kagan, move on (Baltimore Sun, 07/13/10)
Prof. Carl Tobias: "the Senate should promptly confirm Ms. Kagan and move on to fill the 99 present lower federal court vacancies. The upper chamber can start by swiftly confirming the 22 judicial nominees whom the Judiciary Committee has approved, 13 of whom had no opposition, but on all of whom senators have placed secret holds."
Editorial: Senate blather ignores reality; Thurgood Marshall revisionists suggest we turn the clock back (Daily Astorian [OR] , 07/12/10)
"The bogeyman of the Senate Judiciary Committee discussion is the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, for whom Elena Kagan clerked....The most erroneous perception peddled by Sessions and Kyl is that Justice Marshall was some kind of outlier or radical. On the contrary. His appeal - like that of Martin Luther King, Jr. - was based on the essential promise of equality lodged in the Constitution....The nation has moved far beyond the world of one-sided privilege that Sessions and Kyl hold in such worshipful esteem. In attacking Marshall, they describe a reality to which the great majority of Americans does not want to return."
Our View: Qualified Kagan deserves quick confirmation (Journal Star [Peoria, IL], 07/11/10)
"Kagan also didn't say or do anything to disqualify herself while under the microscope. Her performance at the hearings exposed a sharp intellect and quick wit. ... Kagan is qualified. Barring any 11th-hour surprises, she deserves a swift confirmation."
Editorial: Court Must Turn Back (Bangor Daily News [ME], 07/11/10)
"[T]he conservative majority is bent on activism — the accusation typically hurled at liberal nominees — as evidenced by decisions that reverse long-standing precedents on privacy, individual vs. corporate rights, and the role of government in regulating guns.
The nature of the court changed markedly with the appointment of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, both nominated by President George W. Bush. Their critics describe them as ideologues — that is, weighing cases not against the body of legal precedent, but against their core principles that are not far removed from a political agenda."
Kagan's courtly caution (Indianapolis Star [IN] , 07/11/10)
Op-Ed columnist Dan Carpenter: "With the possible exception of elections and the big money that corrupts them, there is no mightier engine of social change than the judiciary.... The issue, as I've said ad nauseam, is not judicial activism vs. judicial restraint. It is the direction of the activism. Under Earl Warren, it was toward the little guy. Under William Rehnquist and John Roberts, it has skewed toward corporate power "
Our View - Empathy remains an essential part of a judge's role (Iowa City Press-Citizen, 07/09/10)
"During her Supreme Court confirmation hearings last week, U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan helped remind everyone watching that the courts have an important role to play whenever the other two branches of government let the people down.
Ironically, it was some of her least supportive Republican interrogators -- including Sen. Chuck Grassley -- who helped Kagan drive that key point home. In their repeated attempts to link Kagan's judicial philosophy to that of the man she clerked for decades ago -- Justice Thurgood Marshall -- these senators unsuccessfully tried to argue against the standard for judicial empathy that President Obama said he was looking for when appointing both Kagan and Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the Court. ... During her confirmation hearings, Kagan proved she is well-qualified to sit on the highest court in the land -- both in terms of her knowledge of the law and in terms of her recognition of the many factors that go into rendering a legal ruling. The Senate should confirm her."
Editorial: Confirm Kagan for high court (Scranton Times-Tribune [PA] , 07/08/10)
"Throughout the hearings, Ms. Kagan revealed the intelligence and mental agility by which she rose to become the Harvard Law dean, an adviser to several presidents and solicitor general of the United States.
She clearly merits confirmation."
Setting the record straight on Thurgood Marshall (New Pittsburgh Courier [PA], 07/07/10)
George E. Curry: "Interestingly, opponents of Kagan have adopted the same guilt-by-association tactic used against Thurgood Marshall when he was first nominated to the Supreme Court. In that instance, political opponents tried to link him to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was not such a beloved figure in some circles at the time. Critics ignored tension between King, who believed in street protests, and the more conservative Marshall, who thought such issues should be resolved in court. The Senate confirmed Marshall by a vote of 69-11.
Today, in an effort to derail Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Senate Republicans are trying to make her appointment a referendum on Thurgood Marshall, a legal and civil rights icon. As his son, Thurgood Jr., noted in a column last Friday in the Washington Post, “Two former [Marshall] clerks, Ralph K. Winter and Douglas Ginsburg, were nominated to the federal bench by President Ronald Reagan. Those nominations did not prompt the kind of harsh innuendo to which we have been subjected to this week.”"
Lord help this court nominee process (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [PA] , 07/07/10)
Reg Henry column: "Despite low murmuring to the contrary, Elena Kagan is not a witch and appears likely to be confirmed as the next Supreme Court justice.
Having been put into a chair and dunked over three days by the medieval inquisitors of the Senate Judiciary Committee, she disappointed her tormentors by not drowning in their innuendo....
One of the chief drivers of the witch hunt was Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama ...
It is widely known that the graves will open before the senator's mind does."
Editorial: Kagan comes off as competent and reserved (St. Petersburg Times [FL] , 07/06/10)
"Nothing has raised serious red flags, and later this month she should be confirmed by the Senate.... One of the odder aspects of the hearing was the focus by Republican senators on the judicial philosophy of Thurgood Marshall. ...Marshall was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 69-11 in 1967, but the current crop of Republican senators apparently would not have concurred....Despite Kagan's stellar resume and the sparsity of her writings that might be objected to by conservatives, Kagan is likely to attract few Republican votes."
Editorial: Elena Kagan will get it right (Daily Home [Talladega, AL], 07/06/10)
"[I]t looks as though Elena Kagan is well on her way to becoming a justice of the United States Supreme Court.
And despite of the often curt, bordering on rude, questioning from Republican senators, Kagan never lost her cool and never gave away how she might rule on cases that make it to the highest court in the land. That is how it should be."
An activist approach to the Kagan confirmation (Oregonian, 07/06/10)
David Sarasohn: "From last Monday to last Wednesday, Kagan shifted from a threat who would be too ready to change laws from the bench to a danger because she would be too reluctant to overrule Congress. ...By the end, it was clear that committee Republicans were alarmed by activist judges, but not entirely clear what they meant by activist judges. Fortunately, there was the explanation offered by Cornyn in a newspaper column, “It is reasonable to worry that Kagan is a judicial activist simply because President Obama nominated her.”
That at least cleared things up: An activist justice is a justice nominated by a Democratic president."
A judicial change to believe in (Washington Post, 07/05/10)
E.J. Dionne Jr.: "Something momentous has happened to our struggle over the Supreme Court's role when Republicans largely give up talking about "judicial activism," when liberals speak of the importance of democracy and deference to elected officials, and when judges are no longer seen as baseball umpires.
All these things transpired during Elena Kagan's confirmation hearings last week, ... Kagan did lay out a clear judicial philosophy that (1) sees courts as having an obligation to defer to the choices of elected officials except in the most extreme cases and (2) puts the lie to Chief Justice John Roberts's notion that judges are mere "umpires," as if their task was, in Kagan's cutting word, to be "robotic." And it was Republican senators who seemed to be begging her to be a judicial activist and overturn the enactments of Congress."
Editorial: Confirm Elena Kagan to high court (Democrat and Chronicle [NY] , 07/05/10)
"The public grilling of Kagan by the Senate Judiciary Committee over 17 hours and three days left no doubt that she deserves to be confirmed by the full Senate as a U.S. Supreme Court justice."
Our Opinion: Process, not nominee, under fire (Indianapolis Star [IN] , 07/05/10)
"Even Kagan's critics, who have been relatively quiet to date, concede that she's a highly intelligent and accomplished legal scholar. Now the nation's solicitor general, she previously served as dean of the Harvard Law School."
The Tribune's View: Elena Kagan; Time to get on with it (Columbia Daily Tribune [MO] , 07/05/10)
"Kagan is likely to move the court slightly to the right because she will replace one of the panel’s most liberal members, Justice John Paul Stevens. At most her appointment will retain the status quo.
This division comes into play only once in a while on eminently debatable issues where sound reasoning and understanding of the law are the coveted ingredients of decision-making. Clearly, Kagan can fill this role. She will be nobody’s rubber stamp any more than any other justice"
Editorial: Confirm Elena Kagan (Washington Post, 07/04/10)
"Elena Kagan showed herself to be an intellectually gifted person with an impressive grasp of a wide array of legal matters. She exhibited an admirable judicial temperament that allowed her to stay cool and engaged despite at times hostile questioning. The former Harvard Law School dean and current U.S. solicitor general should be confirmed, and by a wide margin. ... Ms. Kagan also argued that the principles ensconced in the Constitution "were meant to be interpreted over time, to be applied to new situations and new factual contexts." ... Ms. Kagan has been more of a pragmatist than an ideologue, the type of person who not only tolerates but invites and appreciates diversity of opinion."
Editorial: A worthy choice (Philadelphia Inquirer [PA], 07/04/10)
"Elena Kagan has shown herself to be worthy of the Supreme Court. The Senate should confirm her nomination. Through three days of questioning last week, Kagan, currently the U.S. solicitor general, showed a temperament that will serve her well on the bench. She has a first-rate intellect and a sharp sense of humor. ... She espoused a philosophy of judicial modesty and humility, and professed the highest respect for precedent. Of course, nominee John Roberts Jr. said the same things in 2005. Since then, Chief Justice Roberts has disregarded precedent sometimes as he leads the court on its march rightward. Republican senators also failed in their bizarre guilt-by-association tactic to discredit Kagan by smearing the late Justice Thurgood Marshall, whom she served as a law clerk."
Editorial: Confirm Kagan (Toledo Blade [OH] , 07/04/10)
"She said everything about general principles that her critics would want her to say, pledging fairness and non-political impartiality. As for the fear of her embracing outcomes-based judging (apparently the new catch phrase for activist judges), she said: "To be a results-oriented judge is the worst kind of judge you can be."... The hearings showed that Elena Kagan is eminently qualified to join the Supreme Court. She should be promptly confirmed by the Senate."
Episcopal Bishop slams GOP attacks on Saint Thurgood Marshall. (Think Progress, 07/03/10)
Ian Millhiser: "This week, Republican senators spent Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearings attacking Justice Thurgood Marshall, the legendary advocate behind Brown v. Board of Education who was recently sainted by the Episcopal Church. Yesterday, the Right Reverend John Bryson Chane, Bishop of Washington, responded to these attacks on one of his church’s saints"
The American Conservatism of Thurgood Marshall: The Elena Kagan hearings have wrongly portrayed him as an extremist. (Wall Street Journal, 07/03/10)
Juan Williams: "Thankfully, Ms. Kagan appears to have escaped any damage from these attempts to paint her as the second coming of this devilish caricature of her former mentor. But the justice's own legacy took some hits, and the truth about his record needs to be set straight before this distortion becomes fixed in the public mind. ... on the high court, Marshall always tailored his opinions to adhere to constitutional principles—not political ideology. ... Marshall's fidelity to the Constitution was evident outside the court as well."
Thurgood Marshall Made Them Do It: Thurgood Marshall Made Them Do It (Slate.com, 07/03/10)
Dahlia Lithwick: "the real mistake the GOP made in tethering Kagan to Marshall was that the comparison emphasized the exact point Senate Democrats were attempting to make all week: that the court has a critical function to play when the other two branches of government let the American people down. Democrats made that point with some success. By invoking Marshall over and over again, Republicans really drove it home."