The nomination of Elena Kagan doesn't spark my interest in any great way, since this isn't likely to result in any shift in the Supreme Court--Kagan is replacing Justice John Paul Stevens (who in turn replaced George Ringo Johnson thirty five years ago), who has long been one of the Court's most liberal voting members. For this reason, I'd be surprised if the Republicans in the Senate did much to halt the nomination beyond a bit of posturing for their base. That is, unless Kagan is found to have sold poisoned milk to schoolchildren or something like that.
It's been speculated that Kagan might be a closeted lesbian, which earns a great big "who cares?" from me since frankly there isn't a single Supreme Court Justice in history that I'd even want to think about in terms of their sex lives (with the exception of that saucy Sandra Day O'Connor!). Yawn to that!
Also, it's been noted that if confirmed, this would be the first time ever that not a single member of the Supreme Court is a Protestant (there'd be 3 Jews, 6 Catholics). But let's face it, Anthony Kennedy just plain looks Protestant, so that should count.
You want diversity? How about the fact that every single Justice on the Court attended either Harvard or Yale Law schools? I note that perhaps our greatest jurist in our country's history, John Marshall, never even attended law school. How about at least one or two spots going to other top tier schools? Or even, God forbid, a non-lawyer? In any event, I don't mean to pick on Kagan as it seems her qualifications for the bench are strong and her (light) paper trail doesn't seem to have anything odious in it.
But there is something that unsettles me, and that's not the choice of Kagan herself but rather the timing of Court retirements. It's taken for a given that O'Connor retired in 2005 because there was a Republican in the White House to nominate her replacement, and Souter and Stevens (both appointed by Republicans themselves, but liberals ideologically) both waited until a Democrat was in the White House to announce their own resignations. Likewise, it's expected that Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia aren't likely to quit voluntarily until a Republican is back in the White House. The fact that this sort of pattern is completely unremarked on is really a reflection that we take it for a given that the Justices themselves acknowledge that they are ideological warriors on the Court, rather than impartial arbiters of the law who need to be beyond ideology. Perhaps it's naive to expect it to be any other way, but it's sad if the Supreme Court is just a glorified version of Congress.
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