This week the full Senate will take up the nomination of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. And although she is expected to easily win confirmation on a vote that will largely fall along partisan lines, a few lawmakers are expected to break party ranks – including Sen. Ben Nelson, the first Democrat to announce his intention to vote against Kagan.
“I have heard concerns from Nebraskans regarding Ms. Kagan, and her lack of a judicial record makes it difficult for me to discount the concerns raised by Nebraskans, or to reach a level of comfort that these concerns are unfounded,” Nelson said in a statement Friday.
Meanwhile, another GOP Senate member – Sen. Judd Gregg – announced that he would vote for Kagan, bringing the latest tally of Republicans supporting the candidate to five.
While Kagan’s nomination has proceeded without much delay, the same cannot be said for President Obama’s non-Supreme Court judicial picks.
Many of Obama’s nominees for federal trial and appellate courts have languished in the Senate, facing a bottleneck effect caused both by Obama’s slow start in naming nominees and Senate Republicans’ efforts to block votes on the nominees. And GOP lawmakers admit that they are paying Senate Democrats back for stalling former President Bush’s nominees.
“My perspective on the 4th Circuit covers a little longer period of time,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell after blocking 4th Circuit nominee Judge James Wynn from getting a vote on the Senate floor two weeks ago.
In other legal news,
Candid Scalia: During a speech in Montana, Justice Antonin Scalia was in rare form, calling the Supreme Court confirmation process “absurd political theater,” the State of the Union address a “silly spectacle,” requesting the removal of a crying baby from the auditorium and asking news photographers to stop taking his picture. During his remarks he also said: “Nothing that I learned in my courses at Harvard law school, none of the experience I acquired practicing law qualifies me to decide whether there ought to be, and hence is, a fundamental right to abortion or assisted suicide.” (Washington Post)
Ginsburg’s foreign view: In an equally candid address, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg chastised Senate Judiciary Committee members for suggesting that looking to foreign law is a no-no. “[It's] very wrong…to charge that citing foreign law is a recent heresy advanced by liberal activist judges in pursuit of their political preferences,” Ginsburg said. (SCOTUSblog)
Cracking the disparity: Congress has sent a bill to the desk of President Barack Obama that would cut the disparity between federal sentences for crack cocaine and powder cocaine offenses. (Lawyers USA)
‘Red flags’ in court: The Federal Trade Commission has urged the D.C. Circuit to reverse a district court ruling that held that regulations designed to combat identity theft don’t apply to attorneys. (Lawyers USA)