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The Senate hearings on Supreme Court nominees always resemble the World Cup: a great deal of sound a fury signifying nothing. Only the vuvuzelas are the mouths of the Senators.
Today’s opening hearing was no exception. Kagan led off by stating that she would consider "every case impartially, modestly, with commitment to principle and in accordance with law," which carries all the weight of an assurance by Oprah that she’ll stay away from the Twinkies. Then she babbled on about the balance between limiting government and respecting popular sovereignty. Finally she got to the crux of the matter: "I will make no pledges this week other than this one – that if confirmed, I will remember and abide by all these lessons. I will listen hard, to every party before the court and to each of my colleagues." Well, color me uninspired. How about pledging to uphold the words of the Constitution? How about pledging to overrule cases that do not uphold the words of the Constitution? How about pledging to wash her hands after going to the bathroom? Apparently all of these are off the table.
The rest of the story was alternative kiss-assing by the Democrats and mild words of censure by Republicans. Chuck Schumer, who knows as much about law as he does about preventing hair loss, called Kagan "the best this country has to offer." And here I thought that was the men and women of the US armed services. Diane Feinstein called Kagan’s qualifications "sterling" and stating that her lack of judicial experience was "refreshing" (by that standard, I could be nominated tomorrow – Kagan and I have the same amount of judicial experience). Pat Leahy, who spent weeks grilling Justice Clarence Thomas about pubic hairs on coke cans, said that Kagan’s judicial philosophy was "well within the legal mainstream," which is Vermont code for, "She’ll write gay marriage into the Constitution."
Now we find out whether Kagan will keep her pledge to honestly answer questions, or whether she’ll stonewall. No doubt she’ll stonewall. She’s just days away from wielding virtually unchecked power, and all she has to do is keep her mouth shut and let the Senators keep wagging their tongues.