McConnell Says Kagan ‘Not Steeped in the Practice of Law But in the Art of Politics’

By Alex Pepper

Jun 28, 2010 5:14pm

ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports:

Republicans have repeatedly voiced concerns about Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s lack of a judicial record, but in the opinion of the top GOP lawmaker in the land it is her documented political record that worries him the most.

So no sooner had Kagan’s first confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee ended today than Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell took to the floor of the chamber to denounce her as a politically-motivated nominee.

“Since Ms. Kagan hasn’t had the judicial or private practice experience common to most modern-day nominees to the Supreme Court, it’s all the more important that we look more closely at the kind of experience she has had. A review of that experience reveals a woman who has spent much of her adult life not steeped in the practice of the law but in the art of politics,” McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor immediately after the first day of Kagan’s confirmation hearings ended.

“If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that politics should end at the courtroom door,” he continued. “So this is one of the key questions Senators will be looking to answer as these hearings proceed:  is someone who has done the kind of political work Ms. Kagan has done in her career more or less likely to restrain her political views if she were confirmed to a lifetime position on our country’s highest court?”

To answer his own question McConnell then pointed to Kagan’s work for President Clinton and prior to that the Dukakis presidential campaign. Having a good personality alone, said the Kentucky lawmaker, is not enough to warrant a spot on the highest court in the land.

“No one has any doubt that Ms. Kagan is bright and personable and easy to get along with, but the Supreme Court is not a dinner club. If getting along in polite society were enough reason to put someone on the Supreme Court, then we wouldn’t need confirmation hearings at all,” he said.

“The goal here is not to determine whether we think someone will get along well with the other eight justices; it’s whether someone can be expected to be a neutral and independent arbiter of the law rather than a rubber stamp for any administration.”

-Matthew Jaffe

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