Monday, May 10, 2010

Supreme Court Confirmations

Today, the president announced the appointment of US Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the court. Now the process moves to the Senate. And that is where it can either work or not.

Let me first say that I do not know enough about this nominee to venture an opinion. I suspect nobody does. We have a lot to learn about her before anyone can actually have an opinion.

Oh, the pundits on both sides will yammer and clamor. Most of them are reading from index cards provided from the rapidly failing Republican and Democratic parties. The good news - Limbaugh, Olbermann and the rest of the clown squad don't matter here. They are background noise that needs to be ignored. I don't care what Matthews or Hannity think on this. Not at all.

Who does matter is the US Senate. In an earlier post, I pointed out that the Republicans in the Senate were handling the vacancy with appropriate dignity and fairness. I also pointed out that Democrats have historically been far less civilized about Supreme Court nominees.

For the Senate, this is one of their most important and significant functions. Whoever ascends to the court will be there for life and will hold sway over many key issues during their tenure. A Supreme Court nomination should always be handled with the dignity and respect due the position.

This means that no Senator should fall on party line nonsense. This is more of a hazard to Democrats than Republicans, but all should be aware that they need to take this Constitutional duty seriously and not in the context of the next election cycle.

Thus far, Republicans have said, (and I think it is fair for them to say) that their support for Ms. Kagan as Solicitor General should not be assumed for her court nomination. Congratulations to them for honesty and careful speech. They are making it clear that they see the difference between lead litigator for the administration and final decider on the court. They are correct in their statements and cautious to not predecide this.

And Democrats...well, they are trying to be cautious while supportive. This is not the action of a person that takes it seriously. Until she testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee, any promise of support (or promise of opposition) is wrong and inappropriate. Some Democrats have already promised support without the benefit of any testimony. They are wrong.

Both sides need to respect that she is not going to give issue based opinions. Nor should she. If she offered an opinion on any matter that might come before her on the court, than she is wrong and should be turned away. Again, historically, Republicans understand that while Democrats do not.

What she deserves and we the people are due is a fair hearing and review of her experience and writings. An examination of her temperament and how she sees the role of the courts on our government. This is not a matter of false diversity or leanings. Nor is it about politics and such. It is about deciding if Kagan is qualified to join what is arguably the most powerful branch of government.

All we can ask is that the Senate turn off the pundits, hang up on the party apparatchiks, ignore the pollsters and disregard the lobbyists. This process - the vetting and confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice - is their chance to prove they are actual adults with respect for the system and the people. Possibly their last chance.

Those that choose to follow the ongoing partisan lunacy do so at their own peril. Everything else may be fair fodder for this, but a Supreme Court nominee is not. Reid and McConnell should take heed here. This is not the time for their endless vote counting games. Allow the hearings to proceed and then bring the nomination to the Senate floor. Without head counts and the rest of the tired games those 2 play. As leaders, Reid and McConnell are offensive on a good day. This would be a great time for Reid and McConnell to take a long vacation. Or at least stop talking.

The coming weeks will tell the tale of the Senate. Are they serious about their duties or just playing for the next election? We will know soon enough.

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