Elena Kagan: Republicans Yearn for the Dark Days

Jeanne Sager

elena kaganHooray for televised Supreme Court confirmation hearings. They show just how far we haven't come as a nation.

Now we can judge Elena Kagan's clothes against those of Sonia Sotomayor!

What, we're supposed to keep our eyes on her lips, not those pearls?

Tell voters at Above the Law -- they've given Kagan a thumbs up for her blue blazer and black shirt. 

Is this what the confirmation hearings come to when you have a female candidate?

I'm almost relieved to see the Republicans grasping at ridiculous straws from her past that are at least political.


They're still grumbling that, gasp, the nominee dared voice her respect for her one-time boss, the late Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Arizona Senator Jon Kyl's derision (among other Republicans') was palpable when he announced,

"Justice Marshall's judicial philosophy is not what I would consider to be mainstream."

Indeed, the first African American justice and the pioneer for civil rights was not mainstream. He fought as a lawyer to desegregate America's schools, winning the landmark Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education case that forever changed the landscape of American education.

Not mainstream. Historic.

The Republicans' new stance is to attack Marshall as a man who whittled away at the Constitution to achieve his activist goals. In turn, they expect his one-time clerk will do the same, noting her support of gay rights among others as signs of deeply entrenched liberal bias.

But take away Marshall's actions and what do we return to?

As Marshall's son, Thurgood Jr., told the AP:

"'If a senator wants to stand up and say they want to oppose desegregating the schools,' they have that right, Marshall said."

If it was 1954, they could. And they could call Kagan over to pick up their coffee while they were at it (and expect Marshall to drink from a separate water fountain).

Using Marshall as a lightning rod is an unusual choice. He's gained nearly immortal status in the halls of the Supreme Court.

Remove his mark from America, and you might as well reduce Kagan to her pearls and pantsuit.


Image via Harvard Law Record/Flickr

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