Tuesday, June 29, 2010

QUIZ TIME FOR ELENA KAGAN


Kagan's center stage this week -- the Supreme Court nominee faces the Senate Judiciary Committee and it may be a fun week for observers -- a lot of ugly jabs, and quite possibly a filibuster.

I like her.

Okay -- she doesn't have experience on the bench as a Judge. The Republicans are going to go after that. Will it hurt her chances? I don't think so.

Here are the main issues, I think, that are going to debated:

How would she vote about Gun Rights? At the moment, we just learned that the Supreme court overturned the ban on handguns in Chicago. (I'd hoped they wouldn't.) What about the paper Kagan wrote during her years with Clinton, advising that automatic weapons be banned? No doubt about it -- Gun Rights will raise a lot of hackles.

What about her Jewishness? In her master's thesis she wrote that Judges have prejudices and goals, and said that it was "not invalid or wrong" for a judge to promote his personal ethical values and social ideals. Though she's said, "I was just a dumb kid when I wrote that," that is going to be thoroughly dissected, and attacked.

And abortion? Roe v Wade? Pro-lifers are crusading against her, claiming her recommendations to Clinton supported pro-choice. Though the White House says she was just a staffer presenting Clinton with a variety of legal arguments, the National Right to Life Committee has written all the senators asking them to oppose Kagan. This is a big, big issue that can't be solved in this hearing, and there's going to be a lot of fiery talk.

What about Gay Rights? The GOP claims Kagan is anti-military -- she banned military recruiters when she was dean of Harvard. Kagan has openly stated her opposition to "Don't ask, don't tell," but on Gay marriage, she's said she'd defend the "Defense of Marriage Act," under which states don't have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Feathers are going to fly -- this could get very muddy and nasty.

And then there's "Executive Power?" Kagan has stated that she believes federal spying laws are constitutional. She's suggested that only in "the rarest of circumstances" could a president circumvent Congress to conduct warrant-less wiretapping. She's agreed with Attorney General Holder, that terrorist detainees could be held without trial at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. (The issues are complicated. I'm not sure what I think -- it's major, but I don't think it'll drag on and on.)

There are other issues. But Kagan can say she has never promoted her own ideas -- she's just been doing the job she was hired to do.

Will the Republicans filibuster her? Will Elena Kagan be attacked as a Jew and Lesbian? Will those words be muttered, or called out?

It'll be a very interesting week of television.

My fingers are crossed. I think she's the right person, a good person to have on the bench of the Supreme Court.
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