June 29, 2010

Good old Sen. Jeff Sessions who joined his fellow Republicans with deciding that attacking Elena Kagan for her association with "activist judge" Thurgood Marshall, the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court also decided it was a good idea to defend Bush's choice of Harriet Miers for the high court while deriding Elena Kagan as someone with the least "real legal experience of any nominee in at least 50 years and not just that the nominee has not been a judge."

John King actually gets Sessions to admit that although he didn't think Miers was the best choice for the Supreme Court, he was going to let her through because he was "being nice to a Republican president. Ben Cardin pointed out the Republicans disregard for Kagan's role as solicitor general. I've got a lot of reasons I didn't like Miers but the main concern for me was that she worked as a union buster and what that would mean when it came to her ruling on decisions that affected labor in the United States. I'm sure Jeff Sessions wouldn't have had any problems with that sort of "activism."

Jeff Sessions and his Republican cohorts apparently haven't learned that playing the race card when it makes you look like the huge flaming racist that you are, and calling the extremely smart woman who worked with the Supreme Court in a position that is often called the "tenth Justice" unqualified might not be the best strategy if you don't want to look like you're just playing partisan politics for political gain and hoping what's left of your racist and sexist base finds it appealing.

Transcript below the fold.

KING: I'm not a lawyer. I assume in law school, there's a definition of activism that the two of you might be able to agree on. Is it fair to say that in Supreme Court nomination battles in today's time that activism is if you're a conservative that means you're a liberal and you're going to do things we don't like, and if you're and left of center, it means you're a conservative, you're going to do things we don't like.

SESSIONS: My philosophy as Senator Cardin says a good definition which is that a judge who allows their personal and political, social religious views to cause them to not render an objective fair decision based on the law is an activist. They can be conservative or liberal. I think Senator Cardin is exaggerating the cases in calling them activists, and I certainly don't think citizen united meets that standard. Just because you reverse a prior decision if it's validly reversed based on constitutional principles, it's the right thing to do. That's not activist.

KING: You gave an opening statement in which I would say you laid out the Republican questions and potentially the republican case against Elena Kagan. I want you to listen to this part of your statement.


SESSIONS: Ms. Kagan has less real legal experience of any nominee in at least 50 years and not just that the nominee has not been a judge. She has barely practiced law and not with the intensity and duration from which I think real legal understanding occurs. Ms. Kagan has never tried a case before a jury.


KING: Now, there's a bit of a deja vu here back to what the Democrats were saying when President Bush in the previous administration nominated his White House council, Harriet Miers. And I want to read a statement you issued back then. "It's not necessary that Miers have previous experience as a judge in order to serve on the Supreme Court. It's perfectly acceptable to nominate outstanding lawyers to that position. I look forward to the confirmation process and to learning more about her judicial philosophy.

Is Elena Kagan less qualified than Harriet Miers? Harriet Miers was a corporate lawyer. She did do some litigation. And Elena Kagan could say I have a much more accomplish work in academia.

SESSIONS: Harriet Miers had 26 years of full-time legal practice in a law firm in court and out of court throughout those years and was quite a respected lawyer. And I never felt she was the highest quality nominee the president could have submitted.

KING: You were being nice to a Republican president?

SESSIONS: Yes. And I think she was a good person and probably would have done a fine job, but she was, I don't think, the perfect person for that job. I felt Sam Alito who replaced her with such magnificent experience and such real knowledge of the law was a better choice. This nominee, clearly, in the last 50 years, had the least real practical legal experience. If you haven't been in court, you haven't tried cases, you haven't been before judges and sort of haven't been a judge, all of that is a real lack. I don't think there's any doubt about it.

KING: Virtue or does it raise questions?

CARDIN: She's the solicitor general of the United States. Generally referred to as the tenth justice. She's argued cases before the Supreme Court. She's was a dean of Harvard Law School. She comes to this process with rich background, and as was pointed out, this is the first time in history of the Supreme Court where all of the justices were appellate court federal judges.

One-third of all of the justices of the Supreme Court came to us other than through the federal bench. I think having a little diversity on the court other than being a federal judge is not a bad idea.

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