News / USA

Supreme Court Pick Kagan Expects Rigorous Confirmation Hearings

President Barack Obama made his second pick for the U.S. Supreme Court Monday, nominating Elena Kagan to take the place of retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.  Kagan must first go through Senate confirmation hearings before she can ascend to the high court, and at the moment most political and legal analysts are predicting she will be confirmed.  

If confirmed, Elena Kagan would take the seat of retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, a leader of the Supreme Court's liberal-leaning minority that is often on the losing end of five to four decisions.

In nominating Kagan, President Obama described her as a trailblazer for women and someone who will be a consensus-builder on the high court in the style of the man she will replace, Justice Stevens.

"I have selected a nominee who I believe embodies that same excellence, independence, integrity and passion for the law," said President Obama.

Kagan has extensive experience in the law and government but unlike the other current Supreme Court justices, she has no experience as a judge.

Her current job is Solicitor General, which means she argues cases before the Supreme Court on behalf of the U.S. government.  Kagan spoke about that when she was introduced at the White House.

"I have felt blessed to represent the United States before the Supreme Court, to walk into the highest court in this country when it is deciding its most important cases, cases that have an impact on so many people's lives," said Elena Kagan.

If confirmed, Kagan would become the third woman on the current court.  She would also be the youngest justice on the court at the age of 50 and presumably would serve for a long time since Supreme Court justices are appointed for life.

Before she can take her place on the nine-member court, Kagan will have to go through Senate confirmation hearings.

Legal scholars generally consider Kagan a moderate nominee, and political experts say that should help her in the confirmation process where Democrats control 59 of the 100 votes in the Senate.

The confirmation hearings will be held by the Senate Judiciary Committee, presided over by committee chairman and Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

"The decisions made at our highest court affect all 300 million Americans," said Senator Leahy. "We hundred Americans [in the Senate] have a duty to the other 300 million to make a wise decision.  Our Constitution deserves a civil and thoughtful debate on this nomination, and then all 100 senators stand up and vote yes or no."

Republicans are promising to be tough and thorough with Kagan at the hearings and will ask about her lack of judicial experience as well as her tenure as the dean of Harvard University Law School.  Kagan opposed on-campus military recruiting at Harvard because of the U.S. military's policy of barring gays from openly serving in the armed forces, known as the 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy.

Conservative legal groups are urging Republicans to ask tough questions during the confirmation process.

Jordan Sekulow is with the American Center for Law and Justice:

"President Obama has a large majority in the U.S. Senate, 59 Democrats," said Jordan Sekulow. "[We know that] Elections have consequences, even as a conservative organization.  What we are calling for is for the Senate to ask tough questions to Elena Kagan to find out more about her judicial philosophy because there just isn't much there."

Republicans acknowledge that Kagan has a formidable intellect and that despite her lack of experience as a judge, there seems to be little appetite as yet to try to block her appointment through parliamentary tactics in the Senate.

Tom Goldstein is a lawyer who has argued before the Supreme Court and is the founder of Scotusblog, which offers analysis of the court and the justices.  He spoke on NBC's Today program.

"She is a very polished and really, really smart person," said Tom Goldstein. "Everybody agrees with that.  So I think that the hearing will go relatively smoothly.  There isn't anything on the horizon that seems to indicate it will blow up."

Senator Leahy argues that plenty of past Supreme Court nominees were thin on judicial experience, including William Rehnquist.  Rehnquist was nominated to the high court by President Richard Nixon in 1972 and eventually rose to the position of Chief Justice.

In any Supreme Court nomination, the potential for a political fight is always there.  That did not arise in the case of Justice Sonja Sotomayor, President Obama's first nominee who was appointed to the high court last year.

Veteran lobbyist and political insider Tom Korologos has extensive experience in helping Republican presidents win confirmation for Supreme Court nominees.  Korologos says presidents historically had an easy time winning confirmation for Supreme Court picks, but all that has changed in the modern political era.

"In the early days, nominees got approved the same day they got named," said Tom Korologos. "And it has now become very contentious.  It is a function of this town in which we live.  The town has gotten very partisan."

Mr. Obama and his Democratic allies in the Senate hope to have Kagan confirmed as the next justice within the next few months so that she can take her seat on the court in time for the beginning of the next Supreme Court session in October.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs