The Senate Judiciary Committee has connfirmed Obama administration Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan 13 to 6 — with Sen. Lindsay Graham being the only Republican to vote to send the nomination to the full Senate.
Elena Kagan, President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, won approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee on a nearly party-line vote Tuesday, her next to last hurdle before gaining a lifetime seat on the high court.
The vote was 13-6, with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) joining the majority Democrats.
If she is confirmed by the Senate as expected early in August, the nine-member court will have four Democratic appointees for the first time since 1971. And for the first time ever, three of the justices will be women, and none will be a Protestant.
A former Harvard Law dean and U.S. solicitor general, Kagan impressed most Democrats during last month’s hearings with her solid grasp of the law, her calm manner and her sense of humor. Republicans were left frustrated. They noted that Kagan has never been a judge and spent most of her career in academia or in policy-making posts in Democratic administrations.
The committee’s seven Republicans tried without success in the last week to obtain a promise from Kagan that she would step aside when the Supreme Court considers a legal challenge to the healthcare overhaul law. During her hearings, Kagan said she would remove herself from cases only if she had worked on them during her time at the Justice Department.
It was originally said by pundits that Kagan would sail through in what they predicted would be yawningly boring hearings with little opposition even from GOPers. Although hearings were relatively low-key, they weren’t boring.
And political skirmishes in the 21st century aren’t political skirmishes without the entry of over the top talk show political culture rhetoric.
In Kagan’s case, it recently came in the assertion of commentor Eric Ericson’s assertion that “Senators would be committing a high act of confirmation treason if they allow this nominee to go on the court without attempting to filibuster her nomination.”
As melodramatic and demonizing as some Supreme Court nominations have been in recent decades, no credible partisan has suggested that not filbustering a nominee named by another party would be an act of treason, no matter how it is argued or described. So now votes come down to treason (not just being RINOs or DINOs) for those who might dare not listen to talk show hosts and commentors?
But, then again, this is 2010 where the gut and the desire for readership or audience often trump the apparently atrophying logical part of the brain.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.