Elena Kagan, Politics, SCOTUS, Senate Judiciary Committee, Supreme Court

Top Five Elena Kagan Quotes from Day 2 of Her Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings

This week, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is in the hot seat spotlight. Today, she was feeling the heat from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. The Judiciary Committee let the session go past the expected 6 p.m. end time, noting that Kagan has a reputation for “toughness.” Regardless, she seemed irritable about the day going for so long.

We’re just pleased that Lady Kaga is now getting the paparazzi attention that she deserves. You can plug into the hearings online in so many ways. You can stream the hearings from a webcast on the Senate Judiciary website. You can follow various liveblogs, including that of SCOTUSblog or ours here at ATL (where we had over 2,500 people following, bantering and commenting today). Or you can follow court watchers on Twitter, like Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick or our ATLblog feed.

We’re having fun watching Solicitor General Kagan’s nomination dance with the senators, with the exception of sitting through Senator Specter’s bombastic questioning. He was more interested in hearing himself talk than hearing Lady Kaga sing. And that’s unfortunate, as she had some very nice turns of phrases today.

Our five favorite Kagan quotes from Day 2 of the hearings, after the jump.

5. The Senators gave Kagan some grief over the Supreme Court justice she once clerked for, Thurgood Marshall, given his “activist ways.” Kagan refused to define herself as a “legal progressive,” saying she didn’t know how to define the term. She resisted being labeled, and asserted her individuality, giving us this quote:

“If you confirm me, you’ll be getting Justice Kagan. You won’t get Justice Marshall.”

4. The senators tried to pin her down on judicial restraint and the changing of law through constitutional interpretation. She broke out this Kagaism twice today, and we hope to see it on a t-shirt soon:

“The Constitution is the Constitution.”

3. She was willing to elaborate on exactly what the Constitution is a little later. At one point, the Divine Miss K stated that she thinks it’s okay for judges to read books about foreign law. (“Glad 2 hear,” we quipped.)

But this made the senators nervous, and they asked whether Lady Kaga was a little too gaga over international law. She responded, exasperated:

“The American constitution is an American document with American history and American precedent…. interpreted by American judges with American sources.”

We expect her to show up with an American flag pin on her blazer tomorrow.

2. As they did with Sonia Sotomayor, the senators asked Kagan how she felt about cameras in the courtroom. Congressmen are desperate to share the C-SPAN stage with the judiciary. Elena Kagan endorsed cameras in the courtroom at length in response to a question from Sen. Kohl. Later, she shut Sen. Specter up (momentarily) with this quip about the repercussions of broadcasting Supreme Court proceedings:

“It means I’d have to get my hair done more often.”

Specter awkwardly commended her for that (either for her view on cameras or her nice new hairstyle).

1. Lindsey Graham wanted to know how Elena Kagan felt about the war on terror (or “terra,” in his heavy Southern accent). He asked her where she was on Christmas day, when a would-be terrorist set his undies on fire on a plane over Detroit. She did not bomb with this line:

“Like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant!”

Elena Kagan performed admirably today, though Jim DeMint announced on Twitter he still won’t vote in her favor. We were most entertained by the questions from Lindsey Graham — as one liveblog commenter noted, he was the “the least dumb questioner so far” — but we must commend Sen. Kohl for asking the question on all of our minds: what Kagan’s “passions” are. She dodged that one.

Tune in tomorrow, for more liveblogging of the hearings.

Earlier: Confirmation Hearings Liveblogging

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