Obama Picks Elena Kagan for Supreme Court

The big news today is that President Obama has selected his nominee for the Supreme Court. Elena Kagan doesn’t have much of a record and would be the first justice in 40 years without prior judicial experience. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. We’re supposed to believe Kagan might not be liberal enough, but I’m starting to suspect that Salon‘s Glenn Greenwald is just giving his side cover. There’s nothing to suggest that Kagan isn’t as liberal as Justice Stevens and it’s likely she’s further to the left. Why anyone takes Greenwald seriously is another story.

Ultimately, this is one of the consequences of the 2008 election. Many may forget that in 2006 then Senator Obama tried to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee. For those that don’t know, that’s an extremely partisan gesture. There’s no telling how extreme Kagan will be on the court, but if Obama’s record is any indication it won’t be good for the nation.

The biggest question I have today is rather trivial. Doesn’t Elena Kagan look a lot like Rachel Maddow?

I think I can see Maddow's future.

I’ll leave this question to the scholars to ponder, and I’ll let Scott Lemieux make my final point. He might be a little over the top, but I think his central argument is true. Liberals aren’t really concerned that much about what the constitution says, but what they can interpret it to say.

When you’re reduced to noting that a prospective nominee for the highest court in the land is a “brilliant conversationalist” and that other Harvardites think she’s good people, one has pretty much conceded that the pick is Ivy League nepotism of the worst sort. The idea that the complete absence of evidence about her constitutional vision is no big deal is something that’s easy for someone who will never be denied an abortion, be discriminated against by an employer, etc., to say, but for people who actually take such things seriously it’s rather important.

As the conservative reaction to Harriet Miers indicates, conservatives do take their constitutional values seriously. I suspect we’re about to find out that far too many liberals don’t. And if a more Republican future Senate rejects or filibusters Obama’s next nominee down the road, this will rank as a blunder on a par with Reagan‘s failure to nominate Robert Bork while the GOP still controlled the Senate. You don’t waste a pick on a blank-slate centrist when your position in the Senate is about to get dramatically weaker.

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