Should Elena Kagan get confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice? The hearings of this matter begin tomorrow. Monday will be just a day for opening statements; Tuesday should have things get rolling.
So now we face the question, should Ms. Kagan be confirmed? I think this is best decided first by looking at what a Supreme Court justice should be. Today’s court is different from that of many years ago. This court is not mostly forming court rulings on things that have never happened before, most of their work is based on things in the Constitution or already ruled on by a court or Supreme Court. Therefore, I think a Supreme Justice has to have a good knowledge of the law in general, but also a good knowledge of what the Supreme Court has done in the past, and is doing today.
The Supreme Court has become younger is recent years. This is think is a good thing, but I would not like to see the Supreme Court all of one age group. I have found that over a period of 20 years or so, some of my perspectives change. I would like to see the Supreme Court have a collection of several age groups. This allows I believe, a wider range of review of events in the Justice system. Also, I think since these appointments are for life, we don’t want to eliminate someone simply based on age. But I think the court should have a component of three younger justices, three mid-range justices, and three older justices as ideal. I have concerns about the younger ages of all of the recent appointees. Still, we shall see how this younger court works out. Ms. Kagan would be another fairly young appointee. I think it is too soon for another younger appointee, unless they are truly outstanding at their age or by their performance. I don’t think I see these things in Ms. Kagan.
Should the Supreme Court increase its women members? Certainly it needs to, however, this can be changed by retirements, as evidenced by Sandra O’Conner or illness. I have never decided that the court should be made of one sex or another; I want qualified people. It seems that about 1/3 of lawyers are women, so I think at least the court should be 1/3 female. On the other hand, the majority in the United States is female, so maybe the majority of the of the court should be female. My belief is this at this point: I think as women increase the percentage of lawyers, we will see more females as judges and as court appointees. I believe this problem will solve itself, and doesn’t need somone appointed because they are a woman. My belief is that one of the reasons Ms. Kagan was appointed was because she is female. I don’t find this a good thing.
Then there is the issue of her being a liberal. I would expect this from our current president. He is very liberal, so I think all of his appointees will be liberals. The question is how would these beliefs affect her work on the court. She has a record of bringing these beliefs into her work. Of course, one has to wonder how many of these beliefs are truly hers, and if they were simply done for the benefit of her continuing employment. But it is clear she has brought her liberal beliefs into her previous workplaces. I am not sure she is showing the ability to be impartial. I think this is an ability required in judges, who will see much they disagree with.
Then there is Ms. Kagan’s lack of court experience. Yes, she has experience as a teacher, but teachers do alot of reporting about that which someone else did, or has already happened. This is different from someone who is in the field making decisions everyday. Since I think that this is most of what a Supreme Court justice does, I think this experience is pretty required. Ms. Kagan has none of it. I don’ think this is good.
So, overall I can’t support Ms. Kagan’s nomination. I don’ think the Court will unravel if she is approved, but I think there are better women out there for this position, even liberal ones. We shall see how it goes.