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Nomination Of Elena Kagan To Be Associate Justice Of The Supreme Court Of The United States - Continued

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, I join my colleagues today in congratulating Chairman Leahy and Senator Sessions for conducting fair and impartial hearings for Solicitor General Kagan. I am here today to support General Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court. Her confirmation will be a milestone that we can all be proud of. For the first time in history, three women will be serving on the Supreme Court at one time.

General Kagan came before the Judiciary Committee with an impressive resume that had all the trappings of an accomplished lawyer worthy of appointment to the Supreme Court. During her hearings, she proved herself to be very well qualified for the job.

She impressed us with her sharp and keen mind, her intellect, and comprehensive knowledge of the Constitution and the law. She pledged to consider each case with an open mind and to impartially uphold the rule of law. She appeared mindful of the need for judicial modesty and fidelity to precedent, but not when it stands in the way of ending injustice or guaranteeing our fundamental rights.

At times during the hearings, Solicitor General Kagan seemed to be somewhat more candid than previous nominees. She disavowed a purely originalist interpretation of the Constitution, recognizing that such a limited approach will not always solve our 21st-century problems. I was pleased she unequivocally expressed her support for opening the Supreme Court to cameras. So I believe with General Kagan's confirmation, the American people will be one step closer to seeing for themselves the Supreme Court debate our most pressing legal and constitutional issues.

But despite the strength of her qualifications, like so many nominees before her, General Kagan often retreated to the generalities and platitudes she once criticized. I am pleased she rejected the analogy that Supreme Court Justices are like umpires, simply calling balls and strikes. Instead, she acknowledges that each Justice's legal judgment determines the outcome of close cases. But at times her answers gave us too little insight into what informs her unique legal judgment and how it will impact those close cases.

As I have said before, the confirmation process demands more than that. This was the public's only opportunity to hear from General Kagan. In my opinion, she made small inroads, but we still have a long way to go in meeting the high standard to which we should hold Supreme Court nominees during their confirmation hearings.

In sum, I am voting for General Kagan because she is unquestionably well qualified, has a record of being a principled, consensus-building lawyer, and because I believe her judicial philosophy is within the mainstream of our country's legal thought. I am confident she will make a superb Supreme Court Justice and is a worthy nominee to carry on Justice Stevens' long legacy of exemplary public service to our Nation.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.


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