Tags: Elena Kagan

The Gag Order That Wasn’t


This morning, Erick Erickson writes, “this week, RedState broke the story of the “gag order” the NRA issued to members of its Board on the Kagan nomination.”

Erick wrote, “internal Senate emails confirmed by NRA Board Members show that the National Rifle Association’s management team has explicitly and directly told the NRA’s board they are prohibited from testifying about second amendment issues during the Elena Kagan confirmation hearings…  The gag order on board members is not limited to providing testimony, but it prohibits board members from coming out against Kagan in their individual capacity.”

The NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox calls this charge BS.

This claim shows complete ignorance of how the NRA operates.  NRA staff, including everyone (myself included) at the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, work for the NRA Executive Vice President, who in turn works for the NRA board, which in turn is elected by NRA’s voting members.Under the NRA by-laws, NRA-ILA has “sole responsibility to administer the legislative, legal, informational and fund raising activities of the Association relating to the defense or furtherance of the right to keep and bear arms, in accordance with the objectives and policies established by the Board of Directors.”  

… When Justice John Paul Stevens announced his retirement in April, I sent an e-mail to NRA board members and staff stating that with the critical case of McDonald v. Chicago still pending before the Court, “it is very important that NRA not comment on Justice Stevens nor engage in speculation on potential successors.”Similarly, when the President nominated Solicitor General Kagan to the Court in May, I sent a message to the NRA Board pointing out her lack of a judicial record; noting that NRA-ILA was reviewing all available information; and stating that “it is important that we all refrain from commenting until we know more about Kagan’s views regarding the Second Amendment.”  Again, I referenced the fact that NRA has a case pending before the Court.

This is exactly the approach the NRA took last year when we opposed the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor.  Early in the process, we expressed our serious concerns about her record. We announced our opposition after her confirmation hearings ended without evidence that she would properly respect our fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms and apply it to the states.  Her dissenting vote in McDonald v. Chicago confirmed that our position was correct.

Put another way, you try telling Ted Nugent that he’s under a “gag order” and can’t express opposition to Kagan, and see how well that goes.

Other members of the board, like the president of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association are saying they never heard any gag order, either: “Friends; those of you close to me should know by now that telling me I can’t speak up on an issue of vital importance to the 2nd Amendment is going to get you into a war.”

Matt Lewis looked at this, and suspected this was a matter of interpreting Cox’s messages:

Of three NRA board members I contacted, only one confirmed “explicitly and directly” receiving any sort of directive that could be interpreted as a “gag order” regarding Kagan. But all three sources confirmed that NRA board members actively opposed to Sotomayor’s confirmation have been severely chastised “to the degree that they would not speak out against Kagan” (as one board member – who requested anonymity – told me).Because most members of the NRA’s board of directors are also heavily involved in numerous other conservative organizations, it seems unusual the NRA would expect board members to remain silent on the Kagan nomination (in fact, many have already spoken out). More likely, the NRA, which is heavily involved in lobbying in Washington, does not want board members representing themselves as speaking for the organization without its approval. And it’s reasonable to assume that testifying in a Senate hearing against Kagan would be frowned upon more than simply writing a column that does not mention any affiliation with the gun group.

Since then I’ve heard from one of the board members, who characterizes the warning from 

Tags: Elena Kagan , NRA

The Who of Kagan


Excerpts from Kagan’s opening statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee are available here

Two notes: 1.  Her final remarks could be different, but in the excerpts she does not mention Harvard by name.  Perhaps she was advised that bouncing between Cambridge, Manhattan, and D.C. undermined the White House’s mantra that she will be The People’s Justice. 

2.  Like Sotomayor, Kagan is embracing the terminology of the Right.  According to Kagan, “what the Supreme Court does is to safeguard the rule of law, through a commitment to even-handedness, principle, and restraint.”  In the immortal words of The Who, “Don’t get fooled again.”

Tags: Elena Kagan , Opening Statement , Senate , Supreme Court

Kyl vs. Kagan


Senator Jon Kyl used his opening statement to unleash a torrent of criticisms against Kagan.  He belittled her experience, making the accurate point that other SCOTUS nominees without judicial experience have had “actual” legal experience, as contrasted with Kagan’s two years doing document review at a big law firm.  He questioned her choice of judicial heroes, Aharon Barak and Thurgood Marshall, and accused her of embracing their activist philosophies.  And he accused her of being precisely the sort of rubber stamp Obama was seeking for his domestic-policy agenda.   I hope the MSM was watching. It seems to me that the White House has successfully convinced them that this nomination has created little traction for Republicans and Kagan opponents — that Kagan has successfully flown under the radar — because the Washingon Post hasn’t had a daily item about some Macaca moment.  But that’s hard to square with the facts.  As recent polls have shown, support for Kagan has dropped since her announcement.  How do they explain that?  Or how do they explain Senator Kyl’s aggressive opening statement — bearing in mind that he has been a proponent of deference to presidential prerogatives?   Whether Kagan’s boosters in the press like it, Kagan’s decision to kick the military off the Harvard Law School campus has received widespread notice.  The fact that she has no judicial experience and mostly political experience has penetrated.  And the argument that she could be Obama’s rubber stamp makes sense to the ordinary person.  Does that mean her nomination will be rejected? Of course not.  But this is not a moment of triumph for White House spinmeisters — their candidate would lose an election.  It is impossible to listen to statements by Senators Hatch and Kyl, for instance, and not conclude that it is only because the deck is stacked 58 (for now) to 41 that Kagan has a prayer.

– Gary Marx is executive director of the Judicial Crisis Network.

Tags: Elena Kagan , Jon Kyl , Senate , Supreme Court

Charlie Crist Can’t Really Remember Why He Opposed Sotomayor


Aspiring senator Charlie Crist knows he opposed Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court last year, and is pretty sure his opposition had something to do with the Second Amendment, but he can’t really recall anything specific right now:

He says he hasn’t encountered anything about the current nominee, Elena Kagan, that concerns him, which will probably come as a surprise to the more than 70,000 NRA convention attendees who wildly applauded criticism of the nominee from Mike Pence and Newt Gingrich.

Tags: Charlie Crist , Elena Kagan

She May Display a Poker Face at Her Confirmation Hearings


From the Monday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Newt Foresees a Bad Romance With Lady Kaga-n

Saturday night I had a preview of Newt Gingrich’s chin music for Elena Kagan. As I’ve noted a few times on the blog, the National Rifle Association scored the confirmation vote for Sonia Sotomayor, the first time they had ever scored a vote on a Supreme Court nominee. That meant that a lot of Senate Democrats who usually have perfect or near-perfect voting records on the gun issue – Harry Reid of Nevada, for one – suddenly have a big black mark. Scoring Kagan and Sotomayor means two black marks for just about every Senate Democrat, and that might be the difference between an endorsement of a Democratic incumbent or an endorsement for a GOP challenger (or the organization not endorsing in a race).

With Mike Pence and Newt Gingrich ripping Kagan to wild applause at the NRA Convention, the organization may have been backed into a corner.

On one of the Sunday shows, Newt continued to argue that it’s a no-brainer: “You don’t need a lot of hearings. The very fact that she led the effort which was repudiated unanimously by the Supreme Court to block the American military from Harvard Law school — we’re in two wars, and I see no reason why you would appoint an anti-military Supreme Court justice or why the Senate would confirm an anti-military Supreme Court justice.”

Meanwhile, on another channel, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell argued that her initial argument in the Citizens United case suggests she’s as iffy on the First Amendment as the NRA members suspect she is on the Second Amendment: “Solicitor Kagan’s office, in the initial hearing, argued that it’d be okay to ban books,” the Kentucky Republican said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. “And then when there was a re-hearing, Solicitor Kagan herself, in her first Supreme Court argument, suggested that it might be okay to ban pamphlets. I think that’s very troubling.”

ON yet another Sunday show, Ann Althouse is left yelling at her television as Chuck Schumer and David Gregory completely and totally botch the description of what the Citizens United case decided: “If there’s one thing you should know about Citizens United v. FEC, it’s that it’s not about corporate contributions to political candidates. It’s about corporations engaging in their own political speech (and spending money in the process) . . .  I am shocked at you and Gregory deliberately misleading viewers. Deliberately or ignorantly. I’m guessing deliberately. At least for Schumer. Gregory might be a dunce. I don’t know.”

Tags: Elena Kagan , Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich: Elena Kagan ‘Should Be Disqualified From the Very Beginning.’


Newt Gingrich instantly became one of the most prominent opponents to the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor as a Supreme Court justice when he tweeted, “Imagine a judicial nominee said ‘my experience as a white man makes me better than a Latina woman’ new racism is no better than old racism.”

Tonight at the NRA convention, he offered a similarly bold and uncompromising criticism of Elena Kagan:  “For a potential Supreme Court nominee to attempt to bar military recruiters from campus during a time of war, she should be disqualified from the very beginning . . . Mr. President, you’re entitled to nominate a liberal. But can’t you nominate a liberal who respects and works for our military, not someone who has contempt for them and opposes them?”

Tags: Elena Kagan , Newt Gingrich

Waiting for the Nominee to Ka-gain Momentum


From Thursday’s edition of the Morning Jolt:

The Kagan-gsta Rap Continues

Hey, who needs the press?

CBS: “The White House today posted on its website a video allowing Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan to speak ‘in her own words’ about her personal history and perspective . . . While the White House seems to believe the American people deserve to hear from Kagan, it has not made her available to reporters. That prompted some consternation at today’s White House briefing.  ’It appears that Solicitor General Kagan did an interview yesterday right after the president’s announcement,’ said a reporter. ‘You’ve now posted that on the White House Web site. Who did the interview? And can I have one?’ ‘I think it’s — I think it’s on the website if you want to see it,’ responded Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.  Soon after, the reporter can be heard saying, an edge in her voice, ‘So a White House staffer interviewing her.’ Gibbs says yes, and the reporter asks if Kagan would like to do another interview.  ‘She has — she’s not told me that, no,’ replied Gibbs, prompting the reporter to respond, ‘Tell her we’re deeply frustrated.’”

Traditionally, Supreme Court nominees don’t conduct interviews with the press during the confirmation process, and maybe that’s a tradition to reconsider. The way the nomination process is evolving, at least half the questions from the friendly party are variations of “what’s your favorite color?” and “What was the one case in Perry Mason that Burger won?” (You know I’m not joking.) Only the questions from the unfriendly party are likely to generate any real information, and most nominees are more heavily coached than Russian gymnasts and every bit as nimble. So they press the mental button of ‘oh, I couldn’t possibly prejudge that issue, senator, and so I’ll simply examine precedent and the arguments before me’ until the five minutes or so are up.

At Red State, Moe Lane is unsurprised: “As most folks involved with the VRWC will happily tell you, this is a totally-expected and unsurprising gambit in the administration’s ongoing move to turn the media’s 2008 infatuation with the President into whole-scale neutering. The White House’s logic is compelling, in its way: they know what they want Kagan to say, they have no intention of letting her say anything to the media that is off-message, so why even bother with the formality of an outside interview? There are plenty of people in the Executive branch of government who know how to operate a video camera, so get one of those, do the interview, hand it to the media, and tell them to get it on the nightly news. That’s how it worked in the campaign, right? Doing it this nakedly is just more . . . efficient.”

Mediaite: “Journalistically, you could argue that Kagan’s feet weren’t actually held to the fire here, or even a warm pair of slippers. This is nothing new, but it would have been a nice surprise to see her swing at a couple of curveballs. Maybe there’s an outtake reel somewhere.”

Even the New York Times got a little snarky about it: “Not surprisingly, there were no questions about her views on abortion, or executive power, or affirmative action, or any of the other hot-button issues that conservatives and liberals alike would love to hear her address. Rather, the video is a bland, overly scripted take on a woman who, by all accounts, is warm, funny and engaging.”

This comment from Jules Crittenden hit home for me: “I’d add that President Obama seems bent on packing the court with people who never had children, and would suggest that if you haven’t had your sleep disturbed for years on end; haven’t subjugated everything in your life to someone else’s interests . . . as opposed to subjugating everything to your career interests . . . and never changed a diaper except, say, as a boutique experience; if you haven’t seen your hopes and dreams grow up, charge off in their own direction and start talking back to you; if you haven’t dealt with abuse of authority and human rights issues sometimes encountered in dealings with obtuse school officials, class bullies and town sports leagues; then there’s a high risk your understanding of life may be somewhat . . . academic. It’s a humbling experience, parenthood. As well as an inspiring one that gives life meaning. It also, as a friend of mine once put it, makes you sane. Even while it drives you crazy. Put another way, it’s part of the maturation thing. Doesn’t the president know any soccer moms who went to a state school?”

I type this with an actual toddler crawling on me.

Tags: Barack Obama , Elena Kagan

Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review