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Oct 25 2012

Kagan Makes Mundane Statement, Wingnuts Freak Out

Justice Elena Kagan gave a talk at the University of Tennessee recently and made what should be an entirely mundane and unsurprising statement, that part of the reason she’s on the Supreme Court is because of President Obama’s commitment to putting more women on the court.

“And to tell you the truth, there were also things that I got because I was a woman. I mean I’m not sure I’d be sitting here,” Kagan said, according to a CNS News report.

“I’m not sure that I would’ve been President Obama’s nominee if I weren’t a woman,” she said. “And if he wasn’t as committed as he was to ensuring that there was diversity on the Supreme Court.”

“So, mostly what I think when I think about this question is how far we’ve come and how much I owe — and all the women who have come after me owe – to people like Justice Ginsburg and Justice O’Connor,” she said.

And the wingnuts, of course, are freaking out over it:

The admission of a sex-based decision on the part of President Obama lends credence to pro-life arguments that he was looking to pack the court with pro-abortion activists rather than selecting the most qualified judge for an open seat on the highest court.

All of this is quite silly. First of all, the notion that there is a “most qualified judge” for a Supreme Court seat is absurd. And the notion that Kagan is not supremely qualified for the position is even more absurd. You’d be hard pressed to find someone with better credentials for the job. But an impressive CV is only one part of why a president nominates someone for the court. There are obviously other considerations at play.

There is a list of highly qualified potential nominees, a few dozen at least, that each party has in place when a nomination comes up. That list is then narrowed down to a handful of potential nominees that are thoroughly vetted and usually interviewed by the president, who then makes the decision. Is gender one factor in that decision? Of course it is. Just like it was with Reagan, who insisted on naming the first woman to the court in 1981.

And of course the Democrats are going to nominate people they think are pro-choice, just like Republicans are going to nominate people they think are anti-choice. When either side tsk tsks over the other side having a litmus test, one can only laugh; they both do it, and any pretense otherwise is patently absurd. That they like to pretend otherwise can only increase the laughter.

19 comments

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  1. 1
    Gregory in Seattle

    I find it very amusing — in the sick kind of way that watching a car crash happen can be funny — that these very same people would make a sex-based decision to keep women OFF the bench.

  2. 2
    Chiroptera

    Yeah. Because Republicans are all about qualifications.

    -

    And considering that the nation consists of more than just white men and their view points, one could argue that increasing the diversity of an organization is itself an important qualification.

  3. 3
    kenbo

    From what I understand, the president had binders of women to choose from. Or something like that.

    Kenbo

  4. 4
    Michael Heath

    This from the party who nominated Clarence Thomas???

  5. 5
    Who Knows?

    To be fair, when you are frightened by the idea of women being in important positions, especially a position that has influence over the direction of our country. That isn’t a mundane statement at all.

  6. 6
    sailor1031

    This from the party who nominated Clarence Thomas??? And Robert Bork!!

  7. 7
    Mr. Upright

    But clearly Republicans never specifically chose Roman Catholic judges to appoint. Every single one of the was the “most qualified” person at the time, right?

  8. 8
    plutosdad

    What? selecting a woman equals selecting a pro-choice judge? I think they admitted a little too much about how they think there.

    Secondly, more and more studies show judges ARE affected by their worldviews, judges with daughters are more likely to rule in favor of female plaintiffs in discrimination cases, etc. All judges are biased, and no judge is completely disinterested especially in constitutional law cases.

    Seriously I am starting to question the wisdom of human judges at all. I am starting to think we should have Bayesian AIs ruling over us. Of course AIs would probably implement Consequentialist ethics, which can be problematic, but at least they’d be unbiased.

  9. 9
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Yeah, no, as long as you don’t admit to any “sex-based decisions” regarding ignoring women entirely when it comes to appointing justices or anything. Or appointing a token woman. WTF is wrong with you on the Left, “admitting” to these things? Besides, you need to appoint more morons, not these smart people.

  10. 10
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    What? selecting a woman equals selecting a pro-choice judge? I think they admitted a little too much about how they think there.

    I know, right? They are so unbelievably transparent, it’s outrageous that great whopping chunks of the population don’t see it. They are like the child who is telling you an incredible lie, while making a face that blatantly gives away the thoughts behind it: “I’m totally lying, but you believe me, right?”

  11. 11
    Nemo

    I was baffled, during the VP debate, when Ryan asked Biden if there was a “litmus test” for the court over abortion, and Biden actually pretended that there wasn’t, as though conceding that it would be a bad thing.

  12. 12
    Gretchen

    I was baffled, during the VP debate, when Ryan asked Biden if there was a “litmus test” for the court over abortion, and Biden actually pretended that there wasn’t, as though conceding that it would be a bad thing.

    Obama said the same in the debates in 2008, when such a question could be asked of the presidential candidate rather than relegated to the VP.

  13. 13
    busterggi

    Thank Cthulhu he didn’t say black women or the wingnuts would be rioting in the streets.

  14. 14
    Michael Heath

    Mr. Upright writes:

    But clearly Republicans never specifically chose Roman Catholic judges to appoint. Every single one of the was the “most qualified” person at the time, right?

    The Republican party was far more aligned with conservative Protestant denominations than the RCC when most of the Republican-appointed Catholic justices were nominated. Instead I think religiosity plays out in this regard by observing that we can find conservative educated Catholics who are anti-abortion rights while we don’t observe hardly any well-educated conservative Protestants.

    That’s changing of course as we observe the Catholic hierarchy largely abandon their church’s long legacy of social justice goals, e.g., Fox News Catholics (read authoritarians), the Bishops, and even the Vatican.

  15. 15
    Ingdigo Jump

    That’s changing of course as we observe the Catholic hierarchy largely abandon their church’s long legacy of social justice goals, e.g., Fox News Catholics (read authoritarians), the Bishops, and even the Vatican.

    Long legacy? Look i went to Catholic school so I can speak truthfully that there are many Catholics dedicated to that…but given the state of the church pre VII and it’s screwed up priorities after wards, and it’s not too friendly relationship with social justice activists I really can’t call it a legacy.

  16. 16
    naturalcynic

    There is a list of highly qualified potential nominees, a few dozen at least, that each party has in place when a nomination comes up. That list is then narrowed down to a handful of potential nominees that are thoroughly vetted and usually interviewed by the president, who then makes the decision. Is gender one factor in that decision? Of course it is. Just like it was with Reagan, who insisted on naming the first woman to the court in 1981.

    This reminds me of one of the great quotations about an unsuccessful SC nominee. In 1969 Nixon nominated Harold Carswell, who had only a mediocre record on the federal bench. In Carswell’s defense, Sen Roman Hruska [R-Nebraska] stated “Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance? We can’t have all Brandeises, Frankfurters and Cardozos.” Back in that day, R’s already had low expectations.

  17. 17
    slc1

    Re naturalcynic @ #16

    One guess as to the ethnic backgrounds of those three justices (hint see Kagan, Ginsburg, and Breyer).

  18. 18
    donalbain

    “I am announcing today that one of the first Supreme Court vacancies in my administration will be filled by the most qualified woman I can find, one who meets the high standards I will demand for all my appointments.”
    -Some Guy from 80s.

  19. 19
    bradleybetts

    It’s telling that they assume any female judge is going to be pro-choice. They know full well that their ridiculous opinions are harmful to women’s rights (else why would they automatically assume any woman will disagree with them?) and yet they push on with them anyway.

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