Obama Learned Lessons from Sotomayor Nomination

Posted: May 10, 2010 10:40 AM
In a nomination speech eerily reminiscent of then-nominee Sonia Sotomayor's last year, President Obama stressed Solicitor General Elena Kagan's background as one of her greatest attributes and qualifications to take a seat on the nation's highest court. 

One thing was noticeably different this time: Obama avoided using the term "empathy."  Last time around, the administration was hammered by conservatives (and some Democrats) for inserting "empathy" into a blind Justice's rule of law.  Instead, Obama stressed that his nominee represented more than just the "intellectual" side of the law, but also understood "how it affects peoples' lives"--same old progressive judicial philosophy.

This time around, the president also had little to work with in exemplifying the candidate's judicial credentials.  In short, Kagan has none; she's never sat behind the bench.  And now, in her nomination to asend to the nation's highest bench, the president highlighted her work in arguing against the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United vs. the FEC.  In another swipe at the court's current justices and their decision on campaign finance reform, the president noted that Kagan's arguments against the court's decision represented her philosophy of "protecting fundamental rights."  Unsurprisingly, like her boss, Kagan seems to have a narrow definition of rights and of those who are eligible to exercise those rights. 

In addition, the president continuously stressed Kagan's willingness to work with both sides of the ideological divide.  Proof of this?  Kagan, a Mets fan, would be working with Sotomayor, a Yankees fan.  Har har.

Kagan is Obama's second nominee to the high court in just 12 months.  In truth, his nomination could've been much worse.  Still, it will be very interesting to watch Kagan's Senate hearings as Democrats try to defend her nomination, despite her lack of experience.