News & Politics

SCOTUS Watch: Calm-Before-the-Storm Edition

Scraps over documents, dresses and switched votes dominate the Kagan conversation this week.

Things are heating up on the Hill as the Senate prepares for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearings. Here’s hoping everyone can take a breather over the Memorial Day recess.

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee continue to press for the release of Kagan’s Clinton-era documents before the start of her hearings, scheduled for June 28. They say the fact that Kagan has no judicial experience makes her Clinton record that much more significant. So enjoy the holiday break, Senate Judiciary staffers, because you could soon be sifting through 168,000 pages of memos and e-mails.

But Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, had strong words for Republicans who are suggesting that Kagan’s hearings should be delayed until the records are available. Leahy dealt the gender card, pointing out that similar confirmation schedules for male high-court nominees went unquestioned.

He wasn’t the only one crying sexism this week. Senator Amy Klobuchar took to the Senate floor to slam a Washington Post story about Kagan’s style of dress.  Klobuchar is in good company on that one.

Not all conservatives mind Kagan’s lack of judicial experience. Justice Antonin Scalia, the high court’s right-wing firebrand, says he’s pleased with the prospect of a non-judge joining him on the bench.

One of the more interesting votes to keep an eye on will be Senator Arlen Specter’s. As a Republican, he voted against Kagan’s confirmation as solicitor general. Now a Democrat, he says he’s open to voting to confirm her to the Supreme Court. He sent Kagan a letter on Tuesday notifying her of the topics he intends to ask her about during the hearings.

Say what you want about Kagan, but ambition is one thing she’s not short on. While dean of Harvard Law, she had her sights on becoming president of the university. She ended up losing out on the gig the same month that then-senator Barack Obama announced he was making a run for the White House.

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