Editorials and Opinion
World-Herald editorial: Sizing up the Supreme Court nominee (Omaha World-Herald [NE] , 07/20/10)
"Does Elena Kagan demonstrate the competence required in a U.S. Supreme Court justice?
Our ultimate answer is yes....When one looks at the entirety of Elena Kagan’s career, one sees a serious-minded individual who displays an intense interest in the law and who has refrained from narrow ideological behavior in her leadership roles. Ironically, Kagan has been so guarded in her public writings and statements that she herself invites particularly close scrutiny.
There seems little doubt that she would approach her work as a member of the high court with the appropriate dedication and conscientiousness."
Editorial: The Republicans and the Constitution (New York Times, 07/20/10)
"Kagan has demonstrated an impressive legal mind and was both calm and firm under attack from Republicans during her hearings. Voting for her to take her place on the court should be an easy call. Yet dozens of Senate Republicans are ready to vote against her, and many are citing her interpretation of the commerce clause of the Constitution, the one that says Congress has the power to regulate commerce among the states....The clause was the legal basis for any number of statutes of enormous benefit to society. It is why we have the Clean Air Act. The Clean Water Act. The Endangered Species Act. ... A vote against the commerce clause is a vote against some of the best things that government has done for the better part of a century, and some of the best things that lie ahead."
Senator Sessions to oppose Elena Kagan for promising to exercise judicial restraint (Balkinization, 07/20/10)
Jack Balkin: "We have been witnessing this rhetorical transformation for some time. Conservative Republicans have long sought judges who would use judicial review to strike down campaign finance laws, regulations of commercial speech, environmental and land use regulations, and limit federal civil rights awards. With the rise of the Tea Party movement, however, some conservatives have begun to argue that the federal courts should now strike down social and economic legislation like the health care bill."
Editorial: Elections count: Confirm Kagan (Post and Courier [SC], 07/18/10)
"[S]eemingly certain: South Carolina's senior senator will announce his support for Ms. Kagan's nomination Tuesday. That will be the correct move, though it will further alienate some hard-line conservatives who already brand Sen. Lindsey Graham a RINO (Republican In Name Only). ... The Senate should -- and shall -- confirm Ms. Kagan."
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"