The Spectacle Blog

Republicans and Kagan

By on 5.10.10 | 11:55AM

As Phil says, Republicans probably won't mount much of an effort to defeat Elena Kagan and are even less likely to succeed if they do. She is about as good as we can get from Obama; her nomination won't affect the liberal-conservative balance on the Court; she'll probably have to recuse herself from some cases; other than the military recruiters at Harvard, she really doesn't have a "wise Latina" moment.

Still, the Republicans should make the confirmation hearings about the proper role of the judiciary and what a constitutionalist jurisprudence would look like. Wherever Kagan is at odds with this, it should be highlighted. Republicans should also not pay any lip service to the idea of Kagan as an umpire. Liberals regard the Supreme Court as another policymaking body and Obama is appointing her to preserve liberal policies on abortion, affirmative action, national security, the treatment of criminals, and other issues.

Given this last point, it will be interesting to see if Republicans continue their trend away from being a rubber stamp for whomever the president nominates to the Supreme Court. They voted overwhelmingly for Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg even after the borking of Robert Bork and the near-borking of Clarence Thomas. Republicans didn't get serious until Harriet Miers and Sonia Sotomayor.

UPDATE: Maggie Gallagher argues that a vote for Kagan is a vote for gay marriage.

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