News & Politics

SCOTUS Watch: Strategy Edition

Filibusters, Israeli judges, and top marks from the American Bar Association.

Elena Kagan’s hearings start Monday. That means her opponents are busier than ever building the case against her confirmation.

Senator Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, says he wouldn’t rule out a filibuster of Kagan’s nomination.

So what’s the problem? For the past several weeks, the main complaint has been Kagan’s lack of previous judicial experience. But the GOP is shifting its strategy. Now Kagan detractors say she’s not worthy of the high court because she’s “a political operative." 

The latest tidbit that Kagan critics are seizing onto is a video of her praising an Israeli judge known as a judicial activist. Conservative groups say it indicates Kagan will also be an activist. Never mind that Justice Antonin Scalia—the Supreme Court’s conservative firebrand—is also on the record supporting the same Israeli judge.

No surprise here. Despite all the noise coming from interests on the right, the American Bar Association has given Kagan its top rating when it comes to how qualified she is for the high court. 

Looking to kill some time before Kagan’s hearings start up? The Sunlight Foundation has organized all of Kagan’s Clinton-era e-mails into a cool interactive database called “Elena’s Inbox.” You can click through it as if it’s your own Gmail account.

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Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 and was a senior editor until 2022.