May 12th, 2010
10:26 AM ET
5 years ago

McConnell on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan

Washington (CNN) – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, released the following statement on Wednesday containing a transcript of his remarks about Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan made on the Senate floor. Kagan is scheduled to meet with McConnell Wednesday on Capitol Hill.

Read the statement after the jump.

"We've only had a few days to consider the President's latest nominee to the Supreme Court, but a few things are already becoming clear about the Administration's approach to this vacancy.

"As Solicitor General, Ms. Kagan is a member of the President's Administration. The President on Monday also said that they're 'friends.' And the Vice President's Chief of Staff – who helped oversee her nomination – is evidently hard at work convincing members of the President's party that they will have nothing to worry about in terms of Ms. Kagan's possible appointment.

"But in our constitutional order, justices are not on anyone's team. They have a very different role to play. As a Supreme Court justice, Ms. Kagan's job description would change dramatically. Far from being a member of the President's team, she'd suddenly be serving as a check on it. This is why the Founders were insistent that judges be independent arbiters, not advocates.

"As one of the founders once put it, 'Under a limited Constitution, the complete independence of the courts of justice is peculiarly essential,' … and further, 'there is no liberty, if the power of judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers.'

"So it's my hope that the Obama Administration doesn't think the ideal Supreme Court nominee is someone who would rubber stamp its policies. But this nomination does raise the question. And it's a question that needs to be answered. Americans want to know that Ms. Kagan will be independent, that she won't prejudge cases based on her personal opinions, that she'll treat everyone equally, as the judicial oath requires.

"That's the defining characteristic of any good judge, much less a judge on the nation's highest court. And the simple fact is, her lack of a record – especially her lack of a judicial record, and the fact that she doesn't have much of a record as a practicing lawyer either – gives us no way of answering that question at this point with any degree of comfort.

"She's never had to develop the judicial habit of saying no to an Administration, and we can't simply assume that she would. Later this morning, I'll have an opportunity to meet with Ms. Kagan and to mention some of the concerns I've raised with her personally. We welcome her to the Capitol and congratulate her once again on her nomination. This is not an easy process for any nominee, but it's an important one."


Filed under: Elena Kagan • Mitch McConnell • Popular Posts • Supreme Court
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. ThinkAgain

    Typical Republican hypocrisy!

    When GW Bush nominated Harriet Miers – his White House Counsel – to the Supreme Court, McConnell, DeMint and other Republicans lined up to praise her, saying that EVEN THOUGH SHE DIDN'T HAVE EXPERIENCE AS A JUDGE, she had "an exemplary record of service to our country," that she was "well-qualified," and would make a "fine addition" to the Supreme Court.

    Where was there concern about Miers not having judicial experience?

    Where was there concern about Miers not being able to be independent of the White House? For Pete's sake, she'd been GW Bush's lawyer for YEARS!

    Folks, Miers was nominated in 2005 – a mere 5 years ago! I think either McConnell and the rest of the Republicans suffer from Alzheimer's – or they think we're all idiots incapable of seeing through their transparent efforts to do anything and everything to obstruct our President.

    GOP = Party Before Country

    May 12, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  2. rita

    I couldn't agree more. We all learned our lessons about friends in high places when the Harriet Myers nomination came down the cronyism track. Thank goodness Republicans came to their collective senses for once on that nomination. I realize that Kagan is eligible, but no judicial track record and little lawyer experience is worrisome to say the least. With friends in such high executive places, liberty of consciousness, objectivity and fairness would seem to take a back seat on some issues.

    May 12, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  3. Mark Bunim

    Sen McConnell certainly sang a different tune when Pres. Bush nominated Harriet Meiers, his "buddy" and in-house counsel to the Supreme Court, whose qualifications were very sketchy. As Mark Twain said, " consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

    May 12, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  4. McConnell

    Glad the lying sack of Kentucky manure held all Bush nominees to his own "standard." Hypocrite.

    May 12, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  5. John

    Mitch is an idiot. She has a long record as a centrist judge who is willing to work on both sides. Unlike the corporation-backers Alito and Roberts, she'll actually advocate the law the way it's written.

    Republicans are pure rubbish.

    May 12, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  6. Republicans is smart in the head area

    What a difference 5 years makes...

    Mitch McConnell on Harriet Miers in 2005: “Ms. Miers has an exemplary record of service to our country. She will bring to the Court a lifetime of experience in various levels of government, and at the highest levels of the legal profession. She is a woman of tremendous ability and very sound judgment. … Ms. Miers has great experience in government as well, at the local, state, and federal levels. …She is well qualified to join the nation’s highest court. … She will make a fine addition to the Supreme Court, and I look forward to her confirmation.”

    He didn't seem worried about GWB's "friend" saying no to that Administration.

    May 12, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  7. David

    So, I guess W. nominating Harriet Myers wasn't picking someone off his own team?

    May 12, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  8. Biased

    That is a good and fair commentary about her suitability. Being a friend and former colleague of Obama yet seemingly having not much experience in too many cases as a lawyer, no real writings, and absolutely no experience as a judge should be a concern to every American whether republican, democrat or independent. This is a lifetime appointment not one like her present job that ends when a new President takes office. In my opinion, this coziness of too many friends getting appointed to positions they know little about already with this administration is disturbing.

    May 12, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  9. Rabbs

    Oh my goodness! I see McConnells point but this is a question of integrity. He just questioned the presidents integrity. Where was all this questioning leading up to the problems and wars and oil spills and business deals and market manipulations and Brownie (heck of a job) appointments then Mr. McConnel. I will never understand why the country will put these people back in power.

    May 12, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  10. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    AH SHUT UP.... like the 2000 decision to hand the election to Bush was not a "team" play ?

    May 12, 2010 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  11. SocialismBad

    So it's my hope that the Obama Administration doesn't think the ideal Supreme Court nominee is someone who would rubber stamp its policies. But this nomination does raise the question.
    =====================================================

    Are you kidding me??!! It is THE ONLY REASON she has been appointed! If she wasn't a close personal friend of Odummie, do you honestly believe that she would have been nominated, given her complete lack of judicial experience?

    Obama's leftist choices for the USSC will be damaging this country for decades to come. BLOCK THEM ALL!

    May 12, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  12. Bryan Dawson

    As an independent, I am disgusted at the hypocrisy shown by Republican leadership over a number of topics. Does anyone remember Mitch McConnell's and Jim DeMint's praise of Harriet Miers? They cited her "wealth of experience," although she too had no experience as a judge. A "trailblazer" for women they said.

    Whether judicial experience is a prerequisite for serving on the nation's highest court can legitimately be debated, one cannot flop flip along party lines.

    McConnell is right in saying the court must be independent. He should apply the same principle in his rhetoric and evaluation of a nominee. The American people deserve better.

    I hope voters can spawn a memory and kick all hypocritical bums out of congress, from either party.

    May 12, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  13. Deborah/KansasCity

    Yeah, like the Bush appointees say no so often to the corporations and far right conservatives.

    May 12, 2010 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  14. brad lawson

    Shocker...McConnell R-Kentucky already has an opinion on Kagan. All I can say is he needs to go, long with every career politician democrat or republican. We as citizens of this great country need to send a message to the house and senate alike that we will vote you out of office if you don't get something done in Washington, as you were elected to do in the first place. Look at whats happened in Utah and West Virginia already, it's just the beginning of hopefully many more ousted out of office...for good!

    May 12, 2010 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
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