The nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens comes as no surprise. She was the leading candidate for weeks and in remarks announcing the nomination, President Obama said Kagan is “an acclaimed legal scholar with a rich understanding of constitutional law.”
That’s fine. But the fact remains we don’t really know much about the judicial philosophy or judicial temperament of Elena Kagan. If confirmed, she would become the first Supreme Court justice in nearly 40 years with no previous judicial experience.
There are those already proclaiming that such a lack of judicial experience makes it easier for the Senate to confirm her – there’s not much in the way of a paper trail – especially when it comes to the hot-button church/state issues that we debate here.
I do not hold her lack of judicial experience against her. But there are important questions that must be answered: What does she really believe? What is her judicial philosophy? Will she abide by the Constitution, or will she take an activist view?
With the Senate’s constitutional role of providing ‘advice and consent’ regarding nominees, I believe it’s imperative that the Senate Judiciary Committee provide full and thorough hearings and ask the tough questions about how Kagan views the role of judges, the Constitution, and the rule of law.
While no nominee should express legal opinions concerning specific issues, the American people deserve to know whether this nominee – who could serve for many decades – embraces the philosophy of judicial activism.
Barry, that’s what the Senate confirmation hearings should be about – let’s see what she says.
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