Elena Kagan

Justice Calls Recess, Part 2
January 12, 2012

I have now had the chance to read the Justice department memo from the Office of Legal Counsel explaining (after the president had already made his controversial recess appointments) why they’re kosher. The memo makes an excellent case that Senate Republicans are a bunch of jerks and that their actions are unconstitutional. It makes a less excellent case that the president's actions are therefore constitutional. It addresses not at all the question "What if the president decides the Senate is in recess every weekend of the year? Can he make recess appointments then?

Our Favorite People
October 12, 2011

Welcome to TNR’s 2011 list issue. Earlier this week we named the most over-covered stories, DC’s most over-rated thinkers, and the most powerful, least famous people in Washington. Today’s installment: TNR’s Favorite People in DC. RICHARD CIZIK As the National Association of Evangelicals’ chief lobbyist in D.C. for ten years, Richard Cizik pushed evangelical-supported legislation. That is, until he was ousted in 2008 for his increasingly progressive opinions—he told NPR that his views were “shifting” on gay marriage and implied that he had voted for Barack Obama.

Are Obama And Bush Really The Same?
August 25, 2011

Yale Literature professor David Bromwich has a column in the Huffington Post that's primarily an attempt to push the meme "Bush-Obama Presidency." It does persuasively argue that President Obama has continued many of President Bush's policies in foreign affairs.

Strong Opinions
July 28, 2011

The Supreme Court has included good writers and bad writers during the past two centuries, but the literarily challenged justices have always had a comfortable majority. In the Court’s early days, one of its clumsiest writers was Samuel Chase, who, in addition to being impeached for excessive partisanship, had a weakness for random italics.

Show Me the Judges
August 27, 2010

Last time I visited the question of judicial nominations, there were 50 district court and six court of appeals vacancies for which Barack Obama had not even nominated anyone. That was two months ago. Today? District court vacancies without a nominee have reached 53; circuit court vacancies without a nominee are up to 9. Why? No idea. Yes, Republicans are obstructing judicial (and exec branch) nominations in the Senate. Why shouldn't they? After all, Obama has signaled again and again that he doesn't really care about them.

Elena Kagan Confirmed
August 05, 2010

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist. He blogs at A plain blog about politics. And so, we have a new Supreme Court Justice, as expected. Final count: 63-37. Five Republicans and one Democrat defected. I didn’t post (or tweet) much during the floor debate, because, well, it was pretty dull. Look, this isn’t a partisan blog, so unlike United States Senators I can be honest about these things. This is politics. The Supreme Court is part of the political system; their decisions, while certainly driven by law and precedent, are nonetheless political actions.

Claim Denied
July 28, 2010

For a few hours last week, Eric Holder could breathe a sigh of relief. Finally, it wasn’t the attorney general but another African American government official whom right-wingers were smearing with allegations of reverse racism. But Andrew Breitbart and other conservative troublemakers’ efforts to turn Shirley Sherrod into Angela Davis proved so ludicrously unfair that they only wound up enhancing Sherrod’s reputation; even long-time conservative commentator Peggy Noonan is now holding up the once-obscure Department of Agriculture official as an icon of racial reconciliation.

Barack Obama Vs. Mort Klein. Who The Hell Is Mort Klein?
July 15, 2010

The president doesn’t like Mort Klein. I don’t know whether they’ve ever met. But the Obama folk did convene a meeting for the president with the “Jewish leadership,” which included, as it happens, American Jewish organizations (new on the block and who are financed mostly by Jewish billionaires who care not a fig for the survival of a people they do not think of as their home) believing that Israel is basically responsible for the intensity and duration of the conflict with the Arabs, in general, and the Palestinians, in particular.

Post-Gender Justice
July 12, 2010

The past few months have seen plenty of commentary about Elena Kagan’s status as one of only a few women ever nominated to the Supreme Court. But much of this commentary has rung hollow, consisting of platitudes about how she is a “trailblazer.” Practically no one has focused on what is perhaps a far more important aspect of her gender: Elena Kagan might very well be the first female nominee to the Supreme Court who does not define her gender as salient to her public life. Kagan has been deemed a female pioneer: the first woman to lead Harvard Law School and to serve as solicitor general.

Hold It Right There
July 10, 2010

The most amazing thing happened in Washington this week: A confirmation process moved forward. It happened when Elena Kagan, President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee. There were opening statements, first by the senators and then by Kagan. Next, there were questions. Republicans frequently indicated their displeasure with Kagan; many hinted at their intention to vote against her.