John McCain became the latest GOP senator to announce his opposition to Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. In a searing op-ed in today’s USA Today, McCain, who is in a tough reelection race, said “Kagan fails.” His reasoning? Her handling of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell as Dean of Harvard Law School.
In 1987, I had my first opportunity to provide “advice and consent” on a Supreme Court nominee. At that time, I stated that the qualifications essential for evaluating a nominee for the bench included “integrity, character, legal competence and ability, experience, and philosophy and judicial temperament.” On that test, Elena Kagan fails.
When Kagan was dean of Harvard Law School, she unmistakably discouraged Harvard students from considering a career in the military — even while claiming to do otherwise — by denying military recruiters the same access to Harvard students that was granted to white-shoe law firms. Kagan did so because she believed the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy to be “a profound wrong — a moral injustice of the first order.”
McCain joins fellow GOP senators Bob Bennett, Jim DeMint, Orrin Hatch, James Inhofe, Lisa Murkowski and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. McCain’s opposition could sway amigo Lindsey Graham, one of the few Republicans considered even somewhat likely to vote for her. Graham, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, had quite a love fest during his question and answer rounds with Kagan. He missed the vote to confirm Kagan as Solicitor General, but Graham was one of nine Republicans who voted to confirm President Obama’s first nominee, Sonia Sotoamyor, to the Supreme Court last year. Even without McCain’s — or, even, Graham’s — support Kagan is widely expect to easily win confirmation before the August recess.