Only one? Welcome to this weekend’s whodunit. After meeting with Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, Sen. Arlen Specter told the press that Kagan had specific and personal criticism for one of her soon-to-be colleagues on the court. Which Justice did Kagan claim conducted a “charade” during the confirmation hearing — and what will that say about Kagan’s approach at hers?
Does Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan have an axe to grind with one of the high court’s nine sitting justices? In a phone call with Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter today, Kagan repeated her criticism of the nomination process as an empty charade, according to Specter — and then singled out one justice for not having supplied “appropriate” replies to senators’ queries during the confirmation process.
“She stood by the word ‘charade.’ And she identified a specific justice who she thought was not appropriate in responses,” Specter told NBC’s Ken Strickland. “I’m not going to tell you who it was, but I’m going to take a look at that record in preparation for the questioning.”
According to The Hill, Specter said the justice Kagan was referring to was “recently appointed.”
Perhaps the better question will be which one didn’t. Ever since the Democrats conducted a character assassination on Robert Bork and almost succeeded in another on Clarence Thomas, the rule at confirmation hearings is to say as little as possible. With John Paul Stevens retiring, every justice on the Supreme Court will have been appointed in this post-Bork environment — and every single one of them tapdanced their way through the hearings.
It’s not the first time that Kagan has leveled these charges, although in the past, her targets were on the Left:
[S]he called out justices [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer — both Clinton appointees — for dodging tough questions. “I suspect that both appreciated that, for them (as for most), the safest and surest route to the prize lay in alternating platitudinous statement and judicious silence,” she wrote. (Here’s a link to the article.)
I’m sure that Ginsburg and Breyer can’t wait to meet up with their newest colleague when she gets confirmed after those comments. They’ll probably greet her with, er, platitudinous comments and judicious silence.
However, Kagan’s smart enough not to indict her fellow liberals, even if they all conducted themselves in much the same way as the conservatives during their confirmation hearings. She probably griped about Samuel Alito or perhaps John Roberts, whom Democrats claimed were evasive during their testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. If so, it’s probably because the only people to get Borked by the Senate have been Republican nominees — a situation that extends to appellate appointments as well; just ask Miguel Estrada.
The real answer to this whodunit is the one found at the end of Murder on the Orient Express. The culprit is — everyone. And Kagan will almost certainly be just as guilty when it comes time for her to answer some tough questions, only Kagan will look a lot more hypocritical when she starts playing her own game of charades.