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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kagan hearings: GOP trashes a U.S. hero

Posted By on Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 12:48 PM

Hollow, desperate, and kind of confused.  That was the impression left yesterday by Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee, who turned Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings into a bitchfest about the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. In the late 1980s, Kagan was a clerk for Marshall, who was the Court’s first African-American justice. Marshall played a historic role in the civil rights movement as the lead attorney in the Brown v. Board of Education case that ended legal segregation in public schools.

Yesterday, the Judiciary Committee’s GOP members laid into Marshall as if he was an infamous outlaw rather than a hero of U.S. history. The overall argument was that Marshall was an “activist judge,” Kagan has expressed admiration for Marshall, and therefore, she is just like Marshall and, well, they’ve got a problem with that. (Never mind that the current Roberts court is a strikingly activist court for conservative views; I guess judicial activism is OK with Republican senators if it’s coming from the right.)

Sens. Jeff Sessions (AL), Orrin Hatch (NV), John Cornyn (TX) and John Kyl (AZ) railed on and on about Marshall’s terrible legal legacy, with Kyl even saying that the late justice’s views were not “mainstream.” Oh really, senator? Liberalism isn’t mainstream in the United States? Obviously — very obviously — you need to get out a little more, and mingle with people outside your tight-sphinctered country club set. See a video recap of yesterday’s GOP Thurgood Marshall Telethon at the end of this blog post.

As TalkingPointsMemo reports, when they asked three of the GOP senators on the Judiciary Committee “which of Marshall’s opinions best exemplified his activism”  — yes, you guessed it — none of them could name even one case. Not too surprising, since the whole point of their anti-Marshall charade was to look good to the goobers who comprise their party’s current “base.”  Chances of Kagan not being approved for the Supreme Court are slim to none, and so, like male birds  trying to attract a mate, they preened, puffed up and did their little, meaningless dance.

One last thing to confirm the hearings’ absurdity: After the hearing yesterday, Salt Lake Tribune reporter Thomas Burr asked Sen. Hatch whether he would have voted to confirm Marshall to the Supreme Court. Hatch, who had just spent valuable time slamming the hell out of the former justice, replied, in classic politician fashion, "Well, it’s hard to say."

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