Posts Tagged ‘Elena Kagan’

Kagan and Sotomayor Play Supreme Court Good Cop-Bad Cop

Monday, December 27th, 2010

Kagan's investiture ceremony

Here’s an LA Times article on how the addition of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan have given a shot of energy to the left in oral arguments before the Court.

Too soon to tell yet, but this article provides evidence for the much speculated upon theory that the addition of Kagan was an attempt by Obama to pick someone who could serve as a consensus builder, crafting middle ground positions that could bring Justice Kennedy away from the conservatives to meet with the liberal justices on a middle ground.

There is some evidence of this and the LA Times article shows the good cop-bad cop roles that Sotomayor and Kagan sometimes take on, with Sotomayor’s aggressiveness as a questioner serving as a counterweight to Scalia, and Kagan playing the role of a consensus builder in the middle left, attempting to bring Kennedy along.

This approach won’t be successful all the time, nor will it provide liberal outcomes in most cases, but it may temper some of the extremes of the Robert’s Court (which is the best the liberals might hope for barring some unexpected change in the composition of the court).

Enlarging the Strike Zone

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

The seeds of the Reagan/Bush years are finally coming to fruition.

Chief Justice John Roberts, in his confirmation, famously likened the job of the Supreme Court to that of a impartial umpire, calling balls and strikes. If the results of the Court’s last term are any indication, a better metaphor for what Roberts is doing is enlarging the strike zone while the monied interests are pitching against the American people.

As then Senator Barack Obama noted during Judge Alito’s conformation hearings, Alito, as a federal judge, had “consistently side(ed) on behalf of the powerful against the powerless; on behalf of a strong government or corporation against upholding American’s individual rights.”

Now that Alito has joined Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy on the court, it’s becoming clear what the real world consequences of that worldview are.

It’s also shown the hollowness of the Republican arguments against “judicial activism.” For years they used that term as a sword against liberal justices, but the Citizens United case is every much as judicial activist as any of the Warren Court’s decisions. The only difference is that the Roberts court’s judicial activism is creating new rights for corporations while it whittles away at the rights of individuals on the margins.

Unfortunately, the nomination of Elena Kagan is unlikely to change that dynamic. Aside from not altering the liberal-conservative math, Kagan’s nomination seems to be part of an existing pattern of Republican presidents generally picking young, strong conservatives on the Supreme Court while Democratic presidents pick candidates from the center left.

Happy Independence Day!

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

Here’s a nice reflective piece by Peggy Noonan on the writing and editing of the Declaration of Independence.

Watched some episodes of the HBO miniseries “John Adams” last night.

Love watching those larger than life characters of George Washington,  Alexander Hamilton,  Adams, Jefferson, Ben Franklin, (not to mention Abagail Adams) portrayed so well.

The story of the Adams/Jefferson relationship is one of the greatest subplots of the Revolutionary War. The men were polar opposites in political views, geopolitical orientations and personal styles, but managed to keep a running correspondence into the twilight of their lives. They died on the same day, July 4, 1826, exactly 50 days after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Their debates still echo down through the decades and centuries, as we debate the true meaning of freedom, liberty and natural rights (which came up (but then were quickly extinguished) in Elena Kagan’s snoozer of a confirmation process this week).

Is it a larger abrogation of your freedom for the federal government to take a large percentage of your income and make you buy health insurance? Or is it more significant for them to want to regulate what a pregnant woman can do with her body, whether the state can decide who you marry and whether the police can stop you in the street and demand to see your identification because they suspect that you might be an illegal immigrant?

The framers couldn’t have imagined the country that we live in today, but the debates about how to define the natural rights that were the template for both the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights echo through the centuries in our debates today.

Happy Birthday America.