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July 17, 2010

Kagan: Ready to serve

by Melodi Anahtar, Editor-in-Chief
Since her nomination to the Supreme Court in May, Elena Kagan has faced a whirlwind of both praise and criticism. The attention prepared her well for four days of incessant interrogation, otherwise known as her confirmation hearings, which took place from June 28 to July 1.

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan swearing in on the first day of her hearing. 
Courtesy of CBS News
Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan swearing in on the first day of her hearing.
Throughout the hearings, Kagan never lost her cool. She tactfully answered questions about tax deductions, her past actions and whether she supported Team Edward or Jacob (we have Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) to thank for that last question). In Kagan's responses she repeatedly referred to previous Supreme Court decisions, defended her past actions and carefully sidestepped questions about her position on issues that are likely to come before the court.

One obstacle Kagan needed to overcome was the common concern that her lack of judicial experience will hurt her effectiveness in the Supreme Court, but Kagan has plenty of experience that makes her more than qualified for the position. Kagan reminded the senators of her experience serving as a law clerk for Thurgood Marshall, the renowned Supreme Court justice known for his Brown v. Board victory. She also served as the U.S. Solicitor General under President Obama until her nomination to the Court and was the dean of Harvard Law School for six years. All of Kagan's previous positions clearly imply thorough legal expertise.

Senators are also hesitant to confirm Kagan because her lack of a judicial record makes it difficult to predict how she will make decisions. Will she be a judicial activist who interprets beyond the Constitution, or a constructionist who abides solely by the Constitution? Republicans fear that she will exercise activism when making controversial decisions because of her liberal attitude. During the hearings, Kagan stated her belief that although that the Constitution is a "genius document," some interpretation is necessary to create fair decisions. "I don't disagree with you that judging requires judgment," Kagan said. While she appears to take the middle road, there are many approaches to interpreting the Constitution and little evidence revealing how Kagan will do so.

Democrats and Republicans alike agreed that Kagan has a great personality, which would bring a brand new attitude and brighter atmosphere to the Court. "You kind of light up a room," Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said during one hearing after a round of intense questioning. Although Kagan charmed most of her opposition with her bright remarks and composure, great charisma may not be enough to overcome negative endorsements by groups like the National Rifle Association (NRA) that influence Republican support.

Overall, Kagan's hearings indicated that she is an exceptional selection for the Supreme Court. She brings a fresh attitude, more than enough expertise in law to be effective and an open mind that will serve her well when sitting on the bench. "Look to my scholarship, to my speeches, to my talks," Kagan said. "I hope what they will show is a person who listens to all sides, who is fair, who is temperate, who has made good and balanced decisions."



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  • teenage girl on August 26, 2010 at 11:10 PM
    TEAM JACOB ALL THE WAY!!! TAYLOR LAUTNERRR AHHH
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