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.”