‘Washington Intellectual Dishonesty’ defined

Glenn Greenwald

In the post I wrote yesterday after the Kagan announcement, I noted one genuinely encouraging aspect of her record: in 1995, she rightly excoriated the Supreme Court confirmation process as a “vapid and hollow charade” because nominees refuse to answer any meaningful questions about what they think or believe. Kagan argued that “it is an embarrassment that Senators do not insist that any nominee reveal what kind of Justice she would make, by disclosing her views on important legal issues.” As I said yesterday, if Kagan adheres to her own views about this during her confirmation hearing, then I — along with everyone else — can and should keep an open mind, since we’ll finally learn what Elena Kagan actually thinks and believes about things, and can then make an informed and critical judgment about whether she should be on the Court. The New York Times‘ Linda Greenhouse made the same point yesterday: that Kagan’s view that nominees must answer such questions is one of the best things about her nomination.

So much for adhering to the standards one imposes on others or feigning even a small amount of intellectual consistency:

Elena Kagan no longer thinks Supreme Court nominees should have to answer direct questions

The White House Monday said that Supreme Court nominee won’t follow her own advice from 1995 in answering questions on specific legal cases or issues, supporting Kagan’s flip flop on the issue that she first made a year ago.

Kagan wrote in 1995 that the confirmation process had become a “charade” because nominees were not answering direct questions, and said they should have to do so.

But during a briefing with reporters in the White House, Ron Klain, a top legal adviser to Vice President Joe Biden who played a key role in helping President Obama choose Kagan, said that she no longer holds this opinion. . . .

…What makes this reversal particularly troubling here is that having Kagan answer questions in her confirmation hearing is the only way to learn about who she is, how she thinks, and what kind of Justice she would be.  Given what an absolute blank slate she has made of herself, having her answer questions about prior Court rulings is the only conceivable way for a rational person to make any meaningful judgments about the impact she would have on the Court…

…even her hardest-core supporters and long-time friends are incapable of pointing to any of Kagan’s beliefs about most of the crucial political and legal issues of the day…

President Obama may know that his new nominee to the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, shares his thinking on the multitude of issues that face the court and the nation, but the public knows nothing of the kind. Whether by ambitious design or by habit of mind, Ms. Kagan has spent decades carefully husbanding her thoughts and shielding her philosophy from view. Her lack of a clear record on certain issues makes it hard to know whether Mr. Obama has nominated a full-throated counterweight to the court’s increasingly aggressive conservative wing…

The complete article is at Salon.com

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