Florida U.S. Senate nominees ultimate opinions on Kagan will be instructive

The man who wants to replace LeMieux but keep that Senate seat in Republican hands, Marco Rubio was kind in congratulating Kagan, but also expressed concerns about Kagan's lack of judicial experience, something that critics may have a field day with when she goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee:

“While I look forward to learning more about Elena Kagan through the confirmation process, I have concerns about her lack of judicial experience and her role in implementing the ban on military recruiters while she was dean at Harvard Law School. However, she deserves a fair hearing, and I believe both Democrats and Republicans have a duty to conduct a rigorous and intellectually honest review process on behalf of the American people.

As of this writing, we've not heard from Charlie Crist yet. As an independent who fiercely doesn't want to telegraph how he might vote in the Senate (which is why he refuses to answer the premature question of what party he would caucus with if he were so lucky as to win the race), one would assume that he would back Kagan, if nothing scandalous ensues before she goes before the Judiciary Committee this summer.

That's because (as Kagan herself has said) pre 1987 and Robert Bork, most SCOTUS nominees were approved in virtual unanimous votes - that includes both hard line conservatives like Antonin Scalia in 1986 (who did not receive one dissenting vote) and Ruth Ginsberg (who passed 96-3)  in 1993.  But that has changed in the last 23 years, since hardball politics have become part of the process, led by Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden in bringing down Robert Bork went down in 1987.

Trust me, you'll hear Lindsey Graham or some other Republican justify his or her vote against Kagan as not being partisan, or just as partisan as Barack Obama was when he voted against Chief Justice John Roberts in 1995.

But getting back to Charlie Crist - you'll recall that it was this time last year that President Obama named Sonia Sotomayor to be his first nominee.  She was considered by most legal sources as perhaps a touch liberal, but certainly in the mainstream, and seemingly someone like Charlie Crist could support (after all Crist had not only nominating some very conservatives justices to the Florida Supreme Court, but also James Perry, a selection that infuriated social conservatives in the state).

But when Marco Rubio  entered the race as the Sotomayor nomination was in the balance, , that's when Crist veered right, sometimes in seemingly uncomfortable ways.  Last July he came out against Sotomayor, by buying into the notion that she somehow would be bad on the 2nd amendment.  Remember?  At the time, he said this:

"However, I have strong concerns that Judge Sotomayor would not strictly and objectively construe the constitution and lacks respect for the fundamental right to keep and bear arms.  For these reasons, I cannot support her appointment to the highest court in the land.”

It will be fascinating to see where Crist comes out on all of this.

President Obama's nomination of Elena Kagan to replace John Paul Stevens on the U.S. Supreme Court is receiving good buzz amongst Democrats, and reserved commentary from Republicans.  Nothing exceptional there.  As more information surfaces on the current Solicitor General (the attorney who represents the U.S. government in court at the Supreme Court), opinions amongst Republican Senators will emerge, but no doubt many will find a reason to oppose her.

(There is also considerable discussion in liberal quarters today about how progressive she actually is.  Glenn Greenwald at Salon doesn't believe she's progressive at all, while Salon's James Doty believes that's a bit overstated).

Florida's GOP Senator George LeMieux response was pretty bland in his reaction, but that's probably the way to go in the first moments after learning of a nominee being named.  He said today

"I look forward to meeting with the President's nominee, engaging in a thorough evaluation of Solicitor General Kagan's record as an academic and lawyer for the government, and examining her responses before the Judiciary Committee.

"In making my decision whether to support confirming this nominee to a lifetime position on the United States Supreme Court, I will look for a demonstrated commitment to the unbiased application of the law and an unwavering fidelity to the Constitution."

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