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Kagan explains ‘vapid’ and ‘hollow’ comment

Senate lawmakers got to ask questions of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan today, the second day of her confirmation hearings. And Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy asked her about the infamous book review in which Kagan lamented the fact that “vapid” and “hollow” Supreme Court confirmation hearings rarely yield useful information about nominees.

“You have probably reread those words,” Leahy said to Kagan.

“Many times,” Kagan said with a laugh. “And, you know, they have been read to me many times!”

Then Kagan explained herself.

“The Senate has a significant role to play in picking Supreme Court justices,” Kagan said. “The Senate has a constitutional responsibility, and should take that constitutional responsibility seriously. And it also should have the information it needs to take that responsibility seriously” and that includes “getting a feel of how a nominee approaches constitutional issues and the way they think about the law. [But] I would say there are limits to that.”

Kagan said it would be inappropriate to comment on or “grade” specific Supreme Court cases, as it would be inappropriate to comment on cases that may later come before the Court.

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