Cornyn Weighs In On Kagan Nomination

Texas Senator John Cornyn says he doubts Elena Kagan has enough courtroom experience to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Still, the Republican, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, says he's looking forward to learning more about Kagan and promises to do everything he can to make sure her confirmation hearing is civilized and dignified. David Pitman reports.

Senator Cornyn says he has some of the same concerns about Kagan that he did last year when he voted against her becoming Solicitor General.  But he's not coming right out and declaring he won't vote to confirm her for the Supreme Court.

"Certainly, I think her lack of experience as a practicing lawyer, and her lack of experience as a judge are things that do not argue in her favor.  But I'm going to keep an open mind and give her the opportunity to make her case before the judiciary committee."

Nowadays, when most politicians face a judicial nominee from the opposite party, they almost reflexively call the candidate an "activist judge," regardless whether the label is truly appropriate.  Cornyn isn't using that phrase to describe Kagan.  But he says he'll pay particular attention to how she answers questions that could shed light on her judicial philosophy and temperament.

"We'll have to do our best to figure out from her testimony at her hearing, as well as from her record, whether she comes to the court without an agenda — one in which she's determined to decide cases according to the law, including the constitution."

Cornyn says Kagan will have to do a lot to win him over, after she barred military recruiters from Harvard Law School while she was dean there.  She was motivated by the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays.  Kagan rescinded the ban after the Supreme Court ruled that it could cost Harvard tens of millions of dollars in federal funding.

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David Pitman

Local Host, Morning Edition

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