The Senate confirmed Solicitor General Elena Kagan as the 112th justice of the Supreme Court Thursday on a 63-37 vote, carrying the support of 58 Democrats and five Republicans. Kagan got five fewer votes than Justice Sonia Sotomayor in 2009, and five more than Justice Samuel Alito in 2006. (Watch the Senate's vote.) Here are some initial reactions from commentators:
Let's hear it for the ladies: "Because Kagan is considered a liberal, the ideological makeup of the court is not expected to change," says Jonathan Capehart in The Washington Post. "But the gender makeup will. For the first time in history, the Supreme Court will have three women." That's reason to celebrate.
Kagan won the day, but the war's just starting: For someone touted for "her ability to build consensus on a deeply divided Supreme Court," says Josh Gerstein in Politico, she sure split the Senate. Compare Kagan's 63 yes votes with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg's "96-3 landslide" 15 years ago, and you can see just how polarized the process has become — and how ugly the fight over the 113th justice will be.
Elena who? Kagan's was "the weirdest confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice that I can remember," says John Cole in Balloon Juice. Sure, there was lots going on — wars, oil spills, etc. — but "it never really made any news, there was never any real information to come out of the hearings, and I really know nothing about her. Basically, I know she is Jewish, smart, and may or may not be a lesbian."
Quit the "moaning," the system worked: The Founding Fathers didn't intend for us to know how prospective Supreme Court justices would vote on the controversial issues of the day, says Adam Winkler in The Daily Beast. Like a whiny Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), we don't know if Justice Kagan will "vote more like Chief Justice John Roberts or Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg." Well, that's "exactly how it should be."
Now let's see votes on the other judges: It's great that the Senate "broke its inertia on judicial nominees" to confirm Kagan, says the San Francisco Chronicle in an editorial. Her "credentials and temperament held up under the hot scrutiny of the confirmation process," and she deserves her new job. Now it's time for the Senate to tackle the backlog of federal judge nominees lingering in limbo due to "Republican obstruction and Democratic timidity."
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