Grassley will vote against confirming Kagan to Supreme Court

Chuck Grassley will vote no when the Senate Judiciary Committee takes up Elana Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court today, he announced today. In a statement, Grassley said Kagan “failed to answer directly” many questions asked during her confirmation hearings. Supreme Court nominees proposed by Republican presidents have likewise declined to answer certain questions in committee, but Grassley said “candid answers” were needed from Kagan because “she has no previous judicial experience.” I posted the full text of Grassley’s statement below. He also told Radio Iowa that Kagan won’t exercise “judicial restraint” and will “let her own private views enter in” as opposed to interpreting the law. (No word on whether he found Kagan to be “aggressive” or “obnoxious.”)

It’s rich to hear Republicans talk about judicial restraint when judicial activism has “become a defining feature of the Roberts Court’s unfolding legacy” (see also here).

Click here to watch a YouTube video of Grassley questioning Kagan during Judiciary Committee hearings in late June. Radio Iowa and Blog for Iowa summarized the exchanges between Grassley and Kagan, which covered guns rights and gay marriage, among other issues.

Grassley voted to confirm both of President Bill Clinton’s nominees for the Supreme Court as well as all judges nominated by Republican presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush. Some Iowa conservatives have been grumbling about Grassley in recent years, so perhaps that explains his opposition to confirming Sonia Sotomayor last year and now Kagan.

UPDATE: Media Matters compiled a list of “45 myths and falsehoods” about Kagan’s nomination.

SECOND UPDATE: The Judiciary Committee voted 13-6 to confirm Kagan. All committee Democrats and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina voted yes.

“No one spent more time trying to beat President Obama than I did, except maybe Senator McCain,” Mr. Graham said Tuesday, referring to the 2008 presidential election and Senator John McCain  of Arizona, Mr. Obama’s Republican rival. “I missed my own election – I voted absentee. But I understood: we lost, President Obama won. The Constitution, in my view, puts a requirement on me not to replace my judgment for his.”

Mr. Graham said there were “100 reasons” he could vote against Ms. Kagan if he based his vote on her philosophy, which is at odds with his. But he said she met a time-honored standard for judicial nominees: whether they are qualified and of good character.

As a senator, Mr. Obama adopted a different standard, saying it was permissible to vote against a nominee based on judicial philosophy, not just qualifications. Mr. Graham said that approach undermined the judicial confirmation process, by making it more partisan.

“Something’s changing when it comes to the advice and consent clause,” he said. “Senator Obama was part of the problem, not part of the solution.”

THIRD UPDATE: The reaction from Grassley’s Democratic challenger Roxanne Conlin is after the jump.

Senator Chuck Grassley statement of July 20, 2010:

“Since the nomination hearing for Solicitor General Kagan ended, I have spent time reviewing the hearing record. Thorough consideration has led me to conclude that I cannot vote for Solicitor General Kagan to be the next Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court.

“In her hearing testimony, Solicitor General Kagan failed to answer directly many of the questions posed to her. This was extremely disappointing, especially since she previously took the position that Supreme Court nominees should be forthcoming in their answers on substantive issues. Because she has no previous judicial experience, candid answers were essential for us to ascertain whether she has the appropriate judicial philosophy.

“Solicitor General Kagan’s record shows that she allows her politics and personal views to steer her legal thinking and takes an outcome-based approach when analyzing cases. She also has praised jurists who endorse an activist judicial philosophy. At the hearing, she declined to fully commit to upholding the constitution when it came to the Second Amendment. She appeared reluctant to recognize any constitutional limits on federal power, and also indicated that she would use international law for ‘good ideas’ when making decisions on the bench.

“Solicitor General Kagan is an accomplished political lawyer, but my vote must be based on the nominee’s ability to be an impartial jurist who would exercise judicial restraint and strictly adhere to the Constitution. Based on the record and the nomination hearing, I am not convinced that Solicitor General Kagan will be able to shed her deeply held personal ideological beliefs, political views and experiences, and check those biases at the door of the Supreme Court. Therefore, I must vote against her nomination.”

Statement from Roxanne Conlin, July 20:

“Senator Grassley opposes Wall Street reform, he opposes extending unemployment benefits to thousands of jobless Iowans and now he opposes filling the Supreme Court vacancy despite decades of support for past nominations.  Senator Grassley’s failure to act on unemployment benefits is costing Iowans food and shelter.  He gave $700 billion to Wall Street but refused to hold them accountable and now he’s casting only his second vote against a Supreme Court nominee in his thirty years in the U.S. Senate.”

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  • Kudos to Lindsey Graham

    I don’t think I’d ever vote for the man (there are only maybe six or seven Republicans in the U.S. Senate who I could vote for), but he has always been very civil except when it comes to the Gitmo debate and I still give him props for the NO vote on CAFTA.  

  • I'm not surprised

    As I’ve said before, the Iowa Senators used to get along when it come to Supreme Court nominees.

    Heck, Grassley voted for the fairly liberal Breyer and the very liberal Ginsburg in the 90s.

    Such is the direction that the partisanship Prius has gone though.

    Harkin voted against Roberts and Alito.

    Grassley is responding in kind by voting against Sotomayor and Kagan.

    And, if a Republican nominates the next justice, Harkin will vote against him/her.  When Tom Harkin voted against John Roberts, it opened the gates, and they’re going to be tough to close.

    Alas…hyper-partisanship at it’s finest.

    • Breyer and Ginsburg not that liberal

      certainly not like Brennan and Marshall were back in the day.

      One reason so many Republicans voted to confirm Breyer and Ginsburg was that Orrin Hatch suggested those names to Bill Clinton as people who would easily be confirmed. Clinton wasn’t looking to pick a fight over the Supreme Court–he wanted smooth sailing, so he chose judges who had been “pre-approved” by Hatch.

      I’m not saying Breyer and Ginsburg aren’t decent judges, but they weren’t considered liberal lions at the time of their nomination, and they are really more centrist than liberal. They look liberal because the Reagan/Bush appointees are so right-wing.

      • Agree to disagree

        I would suggest that Ginsburg is quite a bit more liberal than the average American, and that Scalia is quite a bit more conservative than the average American.

        I’m sure we can agree the neither the originalist Scalia nor the former ACLU counsel Ginsburg are “mainstream” or “centrist.”

  • Personally,

    I don’t like the idea of withholding a confirmation vote for (either Party) partisan reasons and I think Graham has it right. Two things my mother taught me were that revenge can never stop because it will always tit-for-tat into infinity, and secondly that I should have the fortitude to do what is right, just because it’s the right thing to do.

    I must say that Senator Lindsey Graham shows himself to be the better Statesman here than former Senator Obama.