Elena Kagan slogged through her third day of hearings and last day of questioning. We liveblogged the proceedings (Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3) and we’re a bit tired of listening to senators talk. We prefer the sweet sounds of judges opining.
We’re surely not as tired of it as Lady Kaga, though. She noted that she has found the hearings to be “somewhat wearying.” But now she’s done. Senator Leahy told her she can put her feet up and relax after today, to which she responded, “I can’t come back?”
“If you’re that much of a glutton for punishment, you’re not qualified for the Supreme Court,” exclaimed Committee Chairman Leahy. Kagan did come across as eminently qualified, though; it’s fair to expect smooth sailing for her to the bench at One First Street.
Tomorrow, the senators will be grilling a lengthy list of witnesses, though we’re not planning on liveblogging now that the Divine Miss K is no longer on stage. She wore a navy blue blazer and pearls today (much more demure than her bright blue attire Monday). What pearls dropped from her lips? Our top five favorite quotes from day 3 of the hearings, after the jump.
5. We’re not sure who was the biggest thorn in Kagan’s side today: Senators Specter, Sessions, or Coburn. But Specter makes our top five list twice for eliciting annoyed responses from the nominee. He was pushing her hard to get her to say whether she agreed with a standard set by Justice Kennedy in a 1997 case, and she resisted answering. He admitted that he was “struggling to find a reason not to vote against her.” She told him:
“You shouldn’t want a judge who will sit at this table and who will tell you that she will reverse a decision without listening to arguments and without reading briefs and without talking to colleagues.”
4. Kagan had a feisty little exchange with Senator Whitehouse, a Dem from Rhode Island, who desperately wanted Kagan to accuse the current Supreme Court of having a clear conservative agenda, asking about “all these 5-4 decisions” that suggest a “clear partisan divide” on the court. Instead, she talked about how judges should ideally act.
“I think what a judge should do is not to think over the long haul, ‘I want to move the law in this direction,’” she said. “I think a judge should take it one case at a time.”
“Well, that’s what you think,” Whitehouse responded. We liked her snappy response:
“All I can tell you is what I think.”
3. Senator Klobuchar of Minnesota demonstrated a love of pop culture references today, starting her first round of questioning with a headline-making Twilight reference. She admitted that she didn’t get to bed last night until 3 a.m. because she had taken her 15-year-old daughter and friends to see the
New Moon Eclipse premiere. She said she was tempted to ask Kagan about her position on Edward vs. Jacob.
Kagan is apparently not familiar with the writings of Judge Stephenie Meyer and wasn’t prepared to discuss that case. She responded:
“I wish you wouldn’t.”
2. Senator Coburn of Oklahoma is an M.D. not a J.D. But he’s read the Federalist Papers, a fact that he brought up several times both today and yesterday. He told the nominee on both days that they’re good stuff and that she should read them. She told him yesterday that she had read them before. When he brought them up again today, she felt the need to reassure him of their importance. In her opening statement she said that she had just one pledge — to listen to others with an open mind.
“I will make you another pledge. I will re-read the Federalist Papers.”
There goes her summer vacation, we quipped.
No hard feelings between these two. Coburn noted at the end of the day that Kagan “kind of light[s] up a room.” We imagine she’ll be lighting up Supreme Court chambers this fall.
1. Elena Kagan is not as sure about that, though. When Senator Specter tried asking her about a case in which she currently represents one of the parties, she refused to say whether she would vote to hear it on the Supreme Court. She said:
“I don’t want to count my chickens before I am confirmed; I am still Solicitor General.”
Specter fired back with an even better line (See the exchange here):
“You’re counting your chickens right now, and I’m one of your chickens, potentially.”
He added the “potentially” under his breath, as if to signal that he’s not in her pen just yet.