The best that Republicans can up with in opposition to Elena Kagan suggests that we're not going to see substantive, critical debate and examination at the Senate Judiciary's confirmation hearings beginning next week.
First there's the ridiculous Washington Times. Think Progress's Ian Millhiser summarizes, but the doctored photo by the Times is enough to tell the story.
Six days ago, after Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) absurdly tried to link Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan to "oppressive tenets of Shari’a-type law," The Wonk Room’s Matt Duss jokingly predicted that anti-Islamic bigot Frank Gaffney would "claim that Elena Kagan ‘may still be a Muslim.’" Sadly, Duss’ prediction largely came true this week. In a Washington Times op-ed run alongside a doctored photo of Kagan in a turban (pictured to the right), Gaffney ropes Kagan into a bizarre fantasy involving Shariah law, the Muslim Brotherhood, and, somehow, the beleaguered Troubled Assets Relief Progam.
Then there's Robert Bork, who apparently has become point man for the opposition. Dave Weigel listened in on conference call sponsored by Americans United for Life to blast Kagan for her administration for an former Israeli Supreme Court justice.
"It's typical of young lawyers going into constitutional law that they have inflated dreams of what constitutional law can do, what courts can do," Bork said. "That usually wears off as time passes and they get experience. But Ms. Kagan has not had time to develop a mature philosophy of judging. I would say her admiration for Barak, the Israeli justice, is a prime example. As I've said before, Barak might be the least competent judge on the planet."
Bork went on to give a history of Barak's tenure, accusing him of creating a "parody of a court." This left most of the people on the call fairly cold, and the first questions to him pivoted immediately away from the Barak issue. But I asked Bork what he thought of the fact that other jurists, including Justice Antonin Scalia, had praised Barak and even praised his version of "judicial activism." Was praise for Barak really a disqualifying factor?
"That sounds like politeness offered on a formal occasion," Bork said dismissively. "Scalia's career does not square with Barak's at all."
That's what they've got for opposition. There's slight hope for a relatively meaningful hearings solely because Al Franken will be participating. If you haven't read or seen his speech to progressive legal scholars from last week, it's worth checking it out.