Yesterday's vote to advance the nomination of Elena Kagan out of the Senate Judiciary Committee was no surprise--with the exception of the lone Republican "aye": Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.). For those who
regularly read this Update, you know I am not a fierce partisan. In fact, I think blind partisan politics has done tremendous damage to our form of government and to our country. But I am also repulsed by those who abandon principle in the pursuit of bi-partisan photo-op. Sen. Graham stunned conservatives--not so much because he broke with his party, but because of his bewildering rationale. In conversations yesterday, Sen. Graham essentially said that his main reason for defecting was because Republicans had it coming. "I could give a hundred reasons why I could vote no..." he explained, "[but] I understood we lost [the 2008 election]. President Obama won."
If that's his logic, why even bother to show up for the next two years? In fact, why hold confirmation hearings at all? If American Presidents have the power to impose their every policy whim, why trouble with Congress at all? "I'm going to vote for her," Sen. Graham said, "and that doesn't mean I'm pro-choice. I'm very pro-life. I'm going to vote for her because I believe the last election had consequences." True, the President gets to pick, but the Senate has the power to confirm. That's what the Constitution says. And when Senators give a pass to a woman who doesn't heed the law--let alone understand how to interpret it--there should be consequences.
Sen . Graham insisted that the Senate "should have a special and strong reason for the denial of confirmation." How about personally twisting the opinion of two medical groups to advance the killing of half-delivered babies? Or using her power to shun the U.S. military from college campuses in a time of war? Yet Sen. Graham insists she "passes [the] test." "[The Constitution] puts upon me a standard that's stood the test of time," he said. "Is the person qualified?" Absolutely not. She has zero experience as a judge. The only relevant legal experience she does have is as a political lawyer. "Is it a person of good character?" The plot to substitute her own judgment for that of trained physicians' shows, at the very least, that Kagan is devoid of any professional standards.
"Are they someone that understands the difference between being a judge and being a politician?" In her graduate thesis, she took the idea of judicial activism to new heights, writing that it is "not necessarily wrong" for judges "to mold... the law in order to promote certain ethical values and achieve certain social ends." In each of these categories, Elena Kagan doesn't even measure up to Sen. Graham's own standards! Unfortunately for Republicans, his absurd rationalization of Kagan leaves them virtually powerless to block her on the Senate floor. By abandoning conservatives, Sen. Graham pushed Democrats across the 60-vote threshold they need to stave off any procedural challenges. And by abandoning Americans, he may have pushed the court into a bold new era of political activism.