Kagan hearings start today. Barring ‘extraordinary circumstances,’ GOP won’t filibuster.




The Kagan confirmation hearings start at 12:30 PM Eastern time today. We’ll get opening statements from all of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during today’s session. That will be painful and boring, but we’ll get some clues about the GOP’s strategy. Tomorrow, Kagan will begin answering questions from the Senators:

But influential GOP members of the Judiciary Panel say they have not yet seen any “extraordinary circumstances” that could justify a filibuster. Extraordinary circumstances is the standard the Senate adopted in 2005 for judicial filibusters.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has declined to rule out a filibuster but other Republicans have said that President Barack Obama has a right to appoint his preferred choice to the court.

“I want to challenge this judge but my view of my job next week is not replace my judgment for President Obama’s; he won this election,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters on Thursday. “I go into these hearings with a view that these elections do matter.”

Graham said he has not yet seen anything in Kagan’s record that would qualify as an extraordinary circumstance and call for a filibuster.

So, Republicans have won’t be filibustering Kagan’s nomination, barring some kind of “extraordinary circumstances.” Of course, who really know what “extraordinary circumstances” means to Republicans. They probably don’t even know themselves, yet. But, they’ll know it if they think they see it — or something like that.

The New York Times would like to hear some real answers from Kagan:

If these hearings proceed like the information-free set pieces we have seen in previous cases, we may never find out. Republicans will, as always, rouse their supporters with provocative challenges on guns, gay rights and abortion. Democrats have the tougher task, and should not stick to inoffensive questions. They have much at stake in holding back the aggressive activism of the Roberts court, which will soon have to rule on the health care law, the rights of corporations, and the evolving balance between civil liberties and national security. Both parties should cast aside their talking points and try to illuminate the authentic mind of Elena Kagan. Her moment to oblige them has finally arrived.

That’s a worthy goal, but I suspect real answers could result in “extraordinary circumstances.”


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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