By a vote of 63-37, Elena Kagan has been confirmed as the newest U.S. Supreme Court justice.
I’ve been meaning to say something about her since her nomination, but frankly I haven’t had that much worth saying. As the first woman dean of the Harvard Law School, she must have at least some legal smarts going for her. Not a lot of trial experience, but according to the Constitution, a justice doesn’t even need to be a lawyer, much less a trial lawyer. The vast majority of lawyers in this country are not trial attorneys, but it doesn’t mean they don’t know the law.
There’s been a dearth of information about Kagan’s positions on specific issues — deliberately so, some say — but the consensus seems to be that she’s a moderate, middle-of-the roader — much too liberal for the right, much too conservative for the left. That makes her just right for me. Call me Goldilocks.
And though we might not like it, there is something to be said for today’s nominees not stating a position on issues they might be ruling on in the future. Judges should be impartial and weigh both sides carefully before ruling on the merits of a specific case, not on the basis of their personal opinions and biases. We wouldn’t want to stack the court on purpose, would we? Then again, we wouldn’t want to find out after the fact that we have stacked the court, would we?
I thought I’d wait till after her hearings before making a decision about her. I wanted to form an opinion based on seeing her, not reports about her. But all I could glean was that she is very intelligent, thoughtful, and well-spoken. And I liked her, although I’ve been tripped up many times by people I liked. Unlike a lot of people, I deem irrelevant her gender, religion, or sexual preferences.
So I still don’t know much about her. Except that now, instead of being the newest nominee, she’s the newest justice. Just in time to rule on Arizona’s immigration laws and California’s marriage laws. Stay tuned.