Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kagan Hearing #2 Morning: Thoughts

A few quick thoughts on the morning session of today's hearing on the Kagan nomination:

1-Kagan received questions from senators for and against the Supreme Court's recent Heller and McDonald gun cases.  Interestingly, that diverse questioning came from two Democrats:  Patrick Leahy, who identified himself as a gun owner and noted widespread gun ownership in his state of Vermont, and Dianne Feinstein, who explained the problem of gun violence in her state of California and the related gang epidemic, as well as the fact that she herself had found Harvey Milk (who had been shot).  Feinstein actually used Kagan's answer to a Leahy question (Kagan said that Heller and McDonald are settled law) to challenge Kagan—albeit a challenge-lite, probably not bearing down to the level she would have for a Republican nominee.

2-Senator Kohl, another Democrat, also put Kagan on the spot with questions along the lines of, "Which direction will you move the Court?"  An honest summary of what the senators and the public want to know (particularly those in pain over, e.g., Justice Souter), but Handling 101 would indicate that a nominee is not going to answer that question.  And asking it is going to make them squirm a bit.

3-The morning session covered a great deal of ground: First Amendment, military recruiting, guns, abortion, Commerce Clause, Executive Power, Chevron deference, etc.  For topics covered yesterday, please see this previous post: Kagan bingo.