Hearings Roundup: What We've Learned, What Comes Next

Four days of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Surpreme Court ended July 1.

COMMITTEE VOTE SCHEDULED — Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has scheduled a committee vote on Kagan’s nomination for July 13, the day after the Senate returns from its holiday recess. However, under Senate rules, any committee member can request to delay the vote by one week, and one of the Republican members will probably do so, meaning the vote likely would be pushed back to July 20.

KAGAN ‘MORE RADICAL’ ON ABORTION — Dr. Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life testified July 1 that Kagan’s view of abortion law “is more radical than what the Supreme Court has required” in previous decisions.

FIVE ‘NO’ VOTES ALREADY — As of July 3, five Republican senators had announced their intention to vote against the Kagan nomination: Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett of Utah, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. In announcing his opposition, McConnell said: “I do not have confidence that if she were confirmed to a lifetime position on the Supreme Court she would suddenly constrain the ardent political advocacy that has marked much of her adult life.” Murkowski, who is pro-choice, said Kagan’s answers during the Judiciary Committee hearings were “not terribly revealing and in many cases evasive.”

MEDIA DISTORTION? — Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center said coverage of the Kagan nomination has been biased: “Kagan’s views are ‘elusive,’ the media chant in unison. They all tried to evade Kagan’s vivid writing as a college student in the Daily Princetonian in 1980, about how she cried and got drunk when Ronald Reagan won and ‘ultraconservative’ Al D’Amato defeated her candidate, ultraliberal Democrat Liz Holtzman. . . .  In their deference to Obama, the networks barely mentioned Kagan for the six weeks between her nomination and her confirmation hearings. Conservative interest groups putting out complaints that she’d be a radical justice on abortion and ‘gay marriage’ are not newsworthy, even though liberal interest groups ranting about ‘far right’ Bush nominees were tenderly solicited by the same networks.”

‘CONCERN’ ON GAY ISSUESEd Whelan of National Review wrote Friday that in her current position as Solicitor General, Kagan “appears to have indulged her strong ideological bias on gay rights by undermining federal laws that she was dutybound to defend:  the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law and the Defense of Marriage Act.  Her actions provide ample cause for concern that she would indulge her ideological biases as a justice and, in particular, that she would vote to invent a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

NRA WILL SCORE VOTE — July 1, the National Rifle Association announced its opposition to Kagan’s confirmation and informed senators, “Given the importance of this issue, this vote will be considered in NRA’s future candidate evaluations.”