Specter: Kagan ‘Very Forthcoming,’ But Who Was Not?

May 13, 2010 11:28am

ABC’s Z. Byron Wolf reports: Back over a year ago when Arlen Specter was a Republican facing a tough primary, he voted against Elena Kagan to be President Obama’s Solicitor General. He said at the time she was not forthcoming to his questions. Now, as a Democrat facing a tough primary – next Tuesday – he faces another vote on Elena Kagan, this time to sit on the Supreme Court. The first words out of his mouth to reporters after his meeting with Kagan Thursday morning were that she was “very forthcoming in our discussion.” Part of being forthcoming, apparently, is being honest. And Specter said Kagan “stood by the word ‘charade’ and she identified a specific justice who she said was not appropriate in responses – I’m not going to tell you who it was, but I’m going to take a look at that record in preparation for the questioning.” Kagan naming a justice she thought was not forthcoming at hearings was like cat nip for reporters who tried in vain to get Specter to name the justice. It had to do with his questions to her about deference to Congress and specifically the Citizens United decision that rocked nearly a century of campaign finance law.
Was it Chief Justice John Roberts? “She didn’t criticize justice Roberts,” said Specter, adding, “But (Roberts) was very deferential in the hearings and he said he wouldn’t jolt the system and then he jolted the hell out of the system.” Specter downplayed the difficult political situation Kagan’s nomination by the Obama administration puts him in. He’s having to explain to Pennsylvania Democrats why he opposed her a year ago as a Republican but not now as a Democrat. It is a situation that Rep. Joe Sestak, his primary challenger, has exploited. “There are so many things that are putting me in a tough position politically, I wouldn’t say it even gets on the score board,” Specter said. He defended his previous opposition to her and said he has a long record of asking many questions and getting answers before he votes for a nominee. Specter and Kagan also talked about TV in the court, long a pet issue of Specter’s. “She was enthusiastic about televising the court,” he said. “I’ve asked that question of a lot of nominees, and this was the flattest answer I’ve gotten.”

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