Thursday, August 5, 2010

Elena Kagan Confirmed

Via Steve Benen:

The Senate today confirmed Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court, making her the fourth woman ever to serve as a justice.

The vote, which was likely senators’ last order of business before a month-long recess, divided largely along party lines with 63 senators endorsing President Obama’s second court pick and 37 opposed.

Kagan’s ascension to the bench is expected to preserve the court’s ideological balance following liberal Justice John Paul Stevens’ retirement. It also marks the first time three female justices will sit on the high court at the same time.

If you’re wondering about the close vote, here’s why: One Democrat, Nebraska’s Ben Nelson, broke ranks and voted with the minority, while five Republicans — Collins, Graham, Gregg, Lugar, and Snowe — voted in support of confirmation.

It didn’t used to be that way. It used to be that the opposition party conceded that the president had the right to name people to the Supreme Court and that unless there was a real problem, they would be confirmed almost unanimously. Or, as one Republican Senate veteran put it:

When President Bill Clinton nominated Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsberg to serve on the high court, I voted for their confirmation, as did all but a few of my fellow Republicans. Why? For the simple reason that the nominees were qualified, and it would have been petty, and partisan, and disingenuous to insist otherwise. Those nominees represented the considered judgment of the president of the United States. And under our Constitution, it is the president’s call to make.

That was John McCain in 2008. Since then, he’s voted against President Obama’s two choices. So much for “the president’s call to make.” Twerp.

Anyway, congratulations Madame Justice.