Elena Kagan faces her first questions from senators on Tuesday, after opening her confirmation hearing by telling members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that her approach as a Supreme Court justice would be "modest" and "properly deferential" to Congress and the president. Conservative senators have expressed some skepticism about Kagan, saying that, since the U.S. solicitor general and former dean of Harvard Law School has never been a judge, she will need to candidly explain her legal philosophy. Still, with little heated opposition, is Kagan's confirmation assured? (Watch a CNN debate over whether Kagan will get confirmed)
Republicans need to wake up — Kagan's a liberal activist: Republicans seem to be "trying to persuade themselves that Elena Kagan might become one of them," says George Berkin at NJ.com. But they're deluding themselves if they think a "lifelong supporter of liberal causes" will "somehow turn into a Republican practitioner of constitutional 'original intent'...." If Kagan's confirmed, she'll try to bend the Constitution to support her liberal positions on "abortion rights, gay rights, affirmative action, unrestricted immigration, and a weakened military."
"The case against Elena Kagan"
Demonizing Kagan would be a mistake: Calling Elena Kagan a "judicial activist" might be good for "riling up the GOP base," says Greg Sargent at The Washington Post, but it's not a winning strategy. Kagan says she wants to "defend ordinary Americans, or the 'underdog,' against powerful interests," and that she is inspired by the legacy of Thurgood Marshall, the first African American to sit on the court. Attacking her will only make Republicans look "intolerant and too solicitous of special interests."
"Kyl: Kagan praised Thurgood Marshall — and she would help the underdog"
The best the GOP can do is delay Kagan's confirmation: "The result is a foregone conclusion," says Richard S. Dunham in the Houston Chronicle. Nobody's worked up enough about Elena Kagan's nomination to spell trouble — although some Republicans hope they can block her from being confirmed until the next court session starts on the first Monday of October. But with several moderate Republicans showing signs they'll probably vote to confirm, it's unlikely the GOP will have the 41 votes they need to filibuster a final vote.
"A guide to the Kagan hearings"
There will be no confirmation fight: "Beltway Republicans will put up just enough of a fight to placate grass-roots conservative activists on Kagan’s radical social views," says Michelle Malkin at her blog. Then GOP moderate Sen. Lindsay Graham, will spout some "obligatory grandstanding mixed with obsequious suck-uppage" and vote with the Democrats. This isn't a confirmation fight — it's theater.
"SCOTUS theater: Kagan kabuki"