Kagan: Court must be ‘properly deferential’ to Congress, voters

Solicitor General Elena Kagan will tell senators the Supreme Court is a “modest” institution that should be “properly deferential” to Congress.

Excerpts of Kagan’s opening remarks to the Senate Judiciary Committee show Kagan will make a point of defining the court’s role in government as limited.


“[T]he Supreme Court is a wondrous institution,” Kagan will say. “But the time I spent in the other branches of government remind me that it must also be a modest one — properly deferential to the decisions of the American people and their elected representatives.”

Kagan says that her experiences in other governmental bodies has left her with “simple admiration for the democratic process.”

“That process is often messy and frustrating, but the people of this country have great wisdom, and their representatives work hard to protect their interests,” Kagan will say. “The Supreme Court, of course, has the responsibility of ensuring that our government never oversteps its proper bounds or violates the rights of individuals. But the Court must also recognize the limits on itself and respect the choices made by the American people.”

The comments suggest Kagan and the White House are looking to head off charges that President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaLabor agency bucks courts to attack independent workers No Hillary — the 'Third Way' is the wrong way Biden should pivot to a pro-growth strategy on immigration reform MORE’s nominee to replace Justice John Paul Stevens would be a liberal activist on the Court. Excerpts of Kagan’s opening statement were released Monday morning by the White House.

Kagan will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Republicans have tried, with little success, to portray Kagan as a political pick with no judicial experience. The White House said that Kagan is thoroughly prepared, and Obama said Sunday that efforts to build a line of opposition to his nominee have produced “pretty thin gruel.”

Kagan will also use her opening remarks to let senators know that she will not make any promises during the hearings as to how she might rule, promising only that she will work hard and apply equal justice to all who come before the court.

“I will make no pledges this week other than this one — that if confirmed, I will remember and abide by all these lessons,” Kagan said. “I will listen hard, to every party before the Court and to each of my colleagues. I will work hard. And I will do my best to consider every case impartially, modestly, with commitment to principle, and in accordance with law.”

Obama invited Kagan to the Oval Office Monday morning, so that he "could offer his encouragement and wish her good luck as the Senate Judiciary Committee begins considering her nomination to the Supreme Court this week," a White House official said.

-- This article was updated at 1:13 p.m.