Our View: Kagan qualified for high court

Our View

During three days of intense questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, Elena Kagan, President Obama’s nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, has demonstrated the intellect and judgment needed to win Senate confirmation.

Kagan, who described her views as “generally progressive,” would not alter the ideological balance of the court if sworn in to replace Stevens, who has lead the Court’s liberal wing for some time. She would, however, enhance the diversity of the Court, which would have three female Justices serving together for the first time in history. Kagan would also be the Court’s third Jewish member.

This would be a boost for the nation, as the Supreme Court has been slow to reflect the changing demographics and increased diversity of the country at large.

Kagan’s dry humor would also add a needed sense of vitality to the court’s normally drab proceedings. When Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asked where she spent last Christmas, she wryly replied, “Like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant.” Graham proceeded to ask her about the attempted airline bombing that day.

Kagan did exhibit some cause for concern when she deferred to precedent on several cases, even calling one recent decision by the Court “settled law.”

The Supreme Court can overturn its past decisions. The Court has been wrong on many occasions, most infamously when it ruled slaves were personal property not entitled to constitutional rights in the Dredd Scott case and when it upheld segregation under the “separate, but equal” doctrine in Plessy v. Ferguson. The former was overturned by the 14th Amendment; the latter by the court itself in Brown v. Board of Education.

Still, Kagan is a qualified nominee with impressive credentials. While some senators have criticized her for never having served as a judge — as all of the current Justices had when they were nominated — it is refreshing to have someone from outside of the judiciary elevated to the Supreme Court. Since Obama appointed Kagan Solicitor General, she has been responsible for representing the federal government before the Court in all cases in which it is involved.

During the committee hearings, Republicans, under the leadership of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), have asked tough and probing questions, as they should. Supreme Court appointments are for a lifetime and are thus very serious matters.

However, calls for more time to review Kagan’s nomination ring hollow. Senators have had seven weeks to question her and analyze her extensive record in academia and government. She has proven herself a worthy nominee.

Now, partisan politics should be put aside and the Senate should confirm Elena Kagan.

Our View is the consensus opinion of The Crimson White’s Editorial Board.