SCOTUS nominations shouldn’t be pro forma exercise

I don’t know how anyone can listen to those near-defiant statements and see Kagan as approaching issues of such value to the Democratic platform, including abortion rights, thinking she’ll judge each case on its merit.

But hey, we knew from the beginning that Kagan was a liberal cut from the same mold as the one she hopes to replace. As has been said before, elections have consequences. And the election of President Barack Obama means he gets to seat the justice of his choice.

What bothers me about these proceedings is how the press and Washington’s pundit class are seemingly annoyed that Republicans are asking tough and sometimes pressing questions. As one Washington Post columnist described the scenario yesterday on a radio show, this is a fait accompli. The Republicans don’t have the votes to block Kagan’s nomination, his argument went, and they never will. The inference there is clear: Why don’t Republicans stop their belly-aching and just toss in the towel? Look the other way while the left exerts its will. This will all be over in a few days, and we can get back to other things.

What flawed logic. Would Chuck Schumer lay down and play dead if President McCain were choosing his nominee to the court? Did he roll over when Justices Alito and Roberts were nominated? Hardly. No one expected him and his colleagues to merely see the political writing on the wall and let this pass without asking tough questions. So why should anyone expect anything different now?

There are serious, precedent-changing decisions that could come before the court in the next five to 10 years. For Republicans to weigh in with their concerns about Kagan’s record and her sense of jurisprudence is only right and proper. To expect and do anything less is to diminish the awesome responsibility of the Senate’s constitutional prerogatives to “advise and consent” no matter which party holds the chairman’s gavel.


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