The Senate devoted Tuesday to statements on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, ending with a bit of a threat from Reid. Reid came to floor last evening, and began to file cloture on the confirmation in order to ensure that the vote happens this week and that Republicans don't derail the process.
Senate rules come in to play here. There will be a cloture vote on the Medicaid/Education funding bill tomorrow. If that bill gets the necessary 60 votes to proceed, Reid would not be allowed under Senate rules to file for cloture on another matter--in this case the Kagan confirmation--while the 30 hours for post-cloture debate on the first ticked down. When Sessions and McConnell agreed to work with Reid to ensure that the vote happens in a timely manner, he withdrew the cloture petition. Where's the threat in that? The potential that the vote would be pushed in to Friday or Saturday, when Senators hope to already be the hell out of Dodge.
As for the actual confirmation, it didn't get any more interesting today, though Ben Nelson did expand on his "concerns" in an interview with TPM's Brian Beutler.
"[She's] just not been able to give people comfort," Nelson said. "The calls have been running -- there's a constituency not to vote for her. There's not a strong constituency to vote for her."
In Nebraska, Nelson said, "some have raised concerns about the Second Amendment. Some have raised concerns about her lack of a judicial background or record. While that's not a disqualifier for me, it does make it more difficult to explain how somebody's going to rule from the bench if you don't have a record of how they have been ruling."
Beyond that, few surprises from Republicans. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III spent a great deal of time questioning Kagan's intelligence (“I believe she does not have the gifts and the qualities of mind or temperament that one must have to be a justice,” ahem), and lying about Kagan's tenure as Dean of Harvard Law School and the school's policy toward military recruiters.
Jon Kyl just reused his script from the Sotomayor confirmation.
Now, as Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is just as certain to be confirmed, Kyl is apparently just as desperate. In what will likely be his final floor speech on Kagan’s nomination, Kyl once again falsely accused a Supreme Court nominee of lying:
In explaining why I could not vote for now-Justice Sotomayor, I said I thought she was disingenuous with the Judiciary Committee. Obviously reaching such a conclusion precludes support notwithstanding other qualifications for the position. Reluctantly, after analysis of her testimony, weighed with her past writings, statements and actions, I have reached the same conclusion regarding Elena Kagan.
Kyl then proceededd to recite a long list of mythical claims about Kagan, and argue that she must have been lying at her confirmation hearing because her testimony does not square with the right’s mythology. “Exhibit A” of his case against Kagan, for example is that she claims to be in favor of gay rights, but she really has no objections to a anti-gay tenets of “Shariah law.” “Exhibit B” is that she claims to not be a judicial activist, even though she had the audacity to praise legal legend and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. And so forth.
More Republicans announced they would oppose her confirmation, more Democrats said they would support her. With five Republicans committed to supporting her, her confirmation isn't in question.
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