August 3rd, 2010
11:48 AM ET
4 years ago

Senate begins debate on Kagan nomination to high court

 The Senate has begun debate on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.
The Senate has begun debate on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.

Washington (CNN) - Senators began floor debate Tuesday on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, with Republicans mustering little desire to delay a final vote. The 50-year-old solicitor general is expected to be confirmed as the 112th justice on Thursday, and would be sworn into her judicial post by week's end.

The start of three days of off-and-on debate centered on Kagan's lack of judicial experience, and whether that would hurt her ability to sit on the nation's highest court. All nine members of the current court came from various federal appeals courts.

"I have long urged presidents from both political parties to look outside what I have called 'the judicial monastery,'" said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who, by tradition, kicked off the Senate debate. "Her credentials and legal abilities have been extolled by many from across the political spectrum including [retired] Justice [Sandra Day] O'Connor and Justice [Antonin] Scalia. No one can question the intelligence or achievements of this woman. No one should question her character either."

The committee's ranking Republican, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) raised concerns that her past work in the Clinton White House and her lack of a judicial background would make her a political "activist" on the bench. "She has less real legal experience than any Supreme Court nominee in 50 years," noted Sessions. "Her testimony and her history demonstrate a dangerous political approach to the law that is contrary to our magnificent heritage of an impartial judge who fairly decides disputes."

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Filed under: Elena Kagan • Senate • Supreme Court
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. John in Brooklyn

    Its sad that a US Senator (Jeff Sessions) would have to resort to downright lieing about Elenda Kagan for nothing more than to pursue his radical Republican-Tea Party agenda. He indicates that she has less experience than any nominee in 50 years and yet, as the primary representative in arguing cases on behalf of the federal government for the Obama administration AND having been the chief administrative and curriculum officer of arguably the most prestigious law school in the country (Harvard), she certainly trumps the qualifications of Republican-Tea Party candidates like Clarence Thomas.

    August 3, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  2. William A. Schaedler

    I find it disgusting that someone without any judicial background can be appointed to the Supreme Court. But then I have to remind myself who made the appointment. Someone who also lacks experience. I wish the current resident at Pennsylvania Avenue would return to Chicago and resume his community organization activities. This is where his real talent lies.

    August 3, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain

    "Her testimony and her history demonstrate a dangerous political approach to the law that is contrary to our magnificent heritage of an impartial judge who fairly decides disputes." – Jeff Sessions

    With the Citizens United ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts overturned 100 years of Court precedent by deciding that corporations are people.

    And this after Roberts swore up and down during his confirmation hearings that he believed in following stare decisis, the "the legal principle by which judges are obliged to respect the precedents established by prior decisions."

    Where was Jeff Sessions then? And why hasn't he called for the impeachment of Roberts?

    August 3, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  4. No more rubber stamps

    Kagan is smart and likable, but she is also an Obama/far left rubber stamp.

    I wish that people would base their 'opinions' on the Constitution and 'blind justice' instead of their political agenda. Kagan has never been a judge (blind justice) and worked in the Clinton administration (far left agenda–politics).

    Sotomayer is proof that Obama is just picking rubber stamps. Before she was confirmed, she said that she would follow the Constitution. Her first judgement on the Supreme Court was against the second amendment (right to own a gun - and I'm not even a gun owner).

    August 3, 2010 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  5. ThinkAgain

    William A. Schaedler says, "I find it disgusting that someone without any judicial background can be appointed to the Supreme Court."

    I find it disgusting that you don't know diddly squat about the history of the Supreme Court, and only care about finding a way to criticize President Obama.

    FYI: 40 out of the 109 Justices who've served on the Supreme Court did not have prior experience as a judge before they served on the Supreme Court.

    A couple examples: John Rutledge, George Washington's first nominee and William Rehnquist, Richard Nixon's second nominee (Rehnquist went on to be Chief Justice).

    August 3, 2010 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  6. bill

    I live in Alabama. Most of the state and myself included think that Jeff Sessions is a self-centered, ultra-conservative idiot who will oppose anyone that the president nominates because years ago when he was nominated for a judgeship, Sessions was not confirmed. It's a case of sour grapes.

    August 3, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  7. Al-NY,NY

    William A. Schaedler August 3rd, 2010 12:09 pm ET

    I find it disgusting that someone without any judicial background can be appointed to the Supreme Court. But then I have to remind myself who made the appointment. Someone who also lacks experience. I wish the current resident at Pennsylvania Avenue would return to Chicago and resume his community organization activities. This is where his real talent lies.
    ---------–

    does the name Rehnquist ring a bell? Earl Warren? Lewis Powell? Byron White? Abe Fortas? ALL put on the court by either Republicans or Democrats from the 60's til now. OOPS. Try again and also go see a doctor to have the "ditto head" chip removed from your brain

    August 3, 2010 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  8. Arthur

    I wonder if Sen. Sessions said the same thing about Harriet Meiers.... I'm willing to bet the farm he was nowhere to be found out her nomination. Just like the rest of the Grand Obstructionist Party, they are going to oppose ANYTHING Pres. Obama does just for the hell of it. COME ON NOVEMBER!!!!!!

    August 3, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  9. Marcus

    William A. Schaedler – Besides filled with lack of knowledge about the POTUS' past, History of the Supreme Court and such, your post shows how little you are informed.
    The 'lack of judicial experience' was debunked by the list of names of previous Justices who (at the time of their appointment) also had not any 'judicial experience'. Some did fine, some did not... just like with the list of Justices who had the 'judicial experience' at the time of their appointment.
    So now the line is 'in decades there has not been any appointtee (to the SCOTUS) that hadn't judicial experience'.
    Well, true. BUT, there's no law and no valid argument that someone that while not having been a judge and yet has a comproved judicial knowledge CANNOT be a Justice.

    August 3, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  10. Darko

    It really is disgusting that the people have to stomach such a partisan ideologue when there are hundreds of super qualified and impartial judges out there.

    This woman refused to agree that we the people have certain unalienable rights that are natural and not granted by the govt or the Constitution. The Constitution exists (and hopefully the state) merely to protect those rights. Kagan thinks our natural rights are granted and determined by the govt.

    This is the number one reason why she is not fit to sit on the court. She fails to understand or believe in the very foundation of what the Constitution is and what it does. Just like Obama...

    August 3, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  11. sonny chapman

    Only a Liberal can be an "activist judge". Conservatives are incapable of having that ailment. P.S.- Sessions can thank his mentor, George Wallace for inventing the phrase "activist judge". It was applied to all those pointy headed Liberals who had the nerve to insist that ALL people were entitled to the rights granted to Americans under the U.S Constitution, regardless of skin color & regardless of what a state legislature, in its' infinite wisdom wanted to do in order to maintain "social harmony".

    August 3, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  12. doug

    Replacing one anti-American constitution hating socialist with another, its a wash.

    I just pray that Kennedy has a food taster, these Chicago lib thugs would not hesitate to poison him if they thought that they could get away with it. Democrats are ruithless and have not a shred of the morals, values, decency and integrity that define Conservatives.

    August 3, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  13. bob

    With the Citizens United ruling Chief Justice Roberts helped level the playing field between business and union donations,if unions were deemed people so should businesses.

    August 3, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  14. snow

    She probably will be more poisonious than the last nobummer selection for the Supreme Court.

    August 3, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  15. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I find it disgusting that someone without any judicial background can be appointed to the Supreme Court. But then I have to remind myself who made the appointment. Someone who also lacks experience. I wish the current resident at Pennsylvania Avenue would return to Chicago and resume his community organization activities. This is where his real talent lies.
    -------------------------------–
    The POTUS was a constituional law professor. I think he of all people kknows the law. Where'd you get your law degree from sir?

    August 3, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  16. chill

    So I'm sure that Sessions would have voted against Rehnquist for the same reason, right? Right?

    August 3, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  17. The Party of No-Socialism

    Just say NO to yet another liberal, progressive/leftist on the USSC. These people think the federal government can do ANYTHING to ANYBODY and completely disregard the US Constitution. They will be the death of this country.

    August 3, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  18. Ron in Asheville, NC

    Let me take my turn with William A. Schaedler's post. While I'm not a great Obama supporter, I am even more tired of the right's handful of nonsense or outright lying talking points being repeated over and over. Re. the "community organizer talking point": Obama has been a community organizer, AND a practicing lawyer for a dozen years, professor of constitutional law at one the country's most prestigious law schools, a three-term state senator in Illinois (where he was very active and very much admired, even across the aisle; at that time I lived in Illinois), and a US senator. At least don't lie by omission.

    August 3, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  19. ART

    I refudiate Jeff Sessions

    August 3, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  20. Thomas

    Every Senator is entitled to his or her opinion on this matter. This is exactly why such decisions are made by a vote of all the Senators.

    That is the American way of doing things. Every Senator has an opinion, every Senator has one vote.

    August 3, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  21. JWN in SC

    Smart is something that the GOP just does not get.

    After all they gave us McCain and Palin, need I say more!

    August 3, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  22. John in Cal

    Kagen is more than qualified to be on the Supreme court. I look at those appointed before her and some had even less qualifications then she. Those that say she is far left– so Roberts and others haven't proved to be far right? sheesh, I wonder about you people and what you've been drinking. So you like Roberts that says a non living Corporation can be a person, oh really? then I want my living dog be able to be proclaimed a verifiable citizen of the US.

    August 3, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  23. panterazero

    "Kagan...worked in the Clinton administration (far left agenda–politics)."

    Bill Clinton, who had the good fortune to be president before the corrosive political polarization of today, was an agile and adept centrist. Anybody who places his agenda at the "far left" is a pure ideologue with an overriding interest in driving this country as far to the right as possible - fast.

    The appointments of Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and Roberts constitute grave damage to the Supreme Court, and undoing that damage must be one of Obama's urgent judicial priorities. Personally, I hope that the President has the opportunity to appoint one or two more justices very much like Kagan.

    August 3, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  24. DENNA

    I hope the Rethugs aren't going to turn this into one of their little circus acts. This woman is qualified and we need a moderate voice on the Supreme Court.

    Darko: You are obviously a Rethug sympathizer from your reply. She can't be any less qualified that any of the five conservatives on the court. Remember, they are the ones that have decided that a corporation has the same rights to donate to a politician that an individual has. Now what do you think about that?

    August 3, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |