With Justice Thurgood Marshall and Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. “on trial” at Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearings, as one commentator portrayed it, President Obama’s nominee defended Justice Marshall today.
At the outset of the second day of her hearings, Kagan “defended her view of Marshall, for whom she clerked in 1988, telling the committee that he played a major role in making the principle of equal protection under the law a reality for minorities,” according to a Washington Post article.
Kagan made her remarks in the context of partisan clashing Monday “over judicial restraint and the proper reach of government,” as the Post characterized the first day’s statements.
Writing in Slate, Dahlia Lithwick focused on a largely partisan slugfest Monday where “Democrats really, really hate John Roberts” and Republicans accused Kagan of having clerked for “a well-known liberal activist judge.” Lithwick saw a theme arising from the political pounding:
“[T]he reason Marshall and Roberts are the ones on trial here is…quite plain: Republicans fear that, in this confirmation hearing, Kagan is pretending to be just what Roberts pledged to be (temperate, centrist, and humble), but that once she takes the bench, she will become Marshall (legendary, visionary, liberal).”
Among Democrats criticizing Justice Roberts was Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, who took issue with the justice’s characterization at his own hearing of the role of a judge as impartial umpire. “For all the talk of ‘umpires’ and ‘balls and strikes’ at the Supreme Court, the strike zone for corporations gets better every day,” Whitehouse said. (more…)