As an academic, Elena Kagan thought recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings were a “hollow charade.” In a prior post, I noted reasons to suspect Elena Kagan might not adhere to this view once it’s her turn before the Senate Judiciary Committee. But perhaps I spoke too soon. Jan Crawford reports:
In her private meetings with Senators, Elena Kagan is making a point that’s pretty hard to dispute. But in doing so, she’s turning up the pressure — on herself.
Kagan, the no-nonsense solicitor general, is criticizing past Supreme Court hearings as lacking in substance — and the performance of at least one justice now on the Court, according to senators who talked to her. . . .
Specter said today that Kagan didn’t back away from her views, and stood by the word “charade.” . . .
Kohl said Kagan told him in their meeting she hopes the hearings will be a “teachable moment.” . . .
So Kagan is setting a high bar and raising expectations. Of course, as Kohl said, she hasn’t talked about the hearings yet with her White House confirmation team. But already, these senators are expecting to hear a lot more from her than they have from past nominees.
And that, as Kohl put it, would be a real “public service.”
UPDATE: It also appears that in her meetings with Senators, Elena Kagan has been expressing her views about the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Citizens United. One might expect Kagan to talk about this case because she worked on it as Solicitor General, and argued it before the Supreme Court, but if this is a basis for her to talk about her personal opinions on the case, then this would seem to apply to other cases as well, and would preclude her from simply passing off the positions she has taken as SG as those of the administration and avoiding additional comment. If she is willing to talk about her personal views of Citizens United, she should be willing to talk about her personal views about other cases as well.