Florida Politicians Toe Party Lines on Elena Kagan Confirmation
Around the State
On a 63-37 vote, the U.S. Senate Thursday confirmed the appointment of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court of the United States -- with Florida's delegation surprising no one when the vote was taken.
Bill Nelson joined most of his fellow Democrats in supporting the nomination, while George LeMieux voted with most of the Republicans against Kagan. Five Republicans crossed party lines to vote for Kagan, the nation's fourth female justice, while Ben Nelson of Nebraska was the one Democrat to vote against her.
“I am left without a solid base on which to judge how she would judge,” said LeMieux in a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday. “She has failed to meet the burden that is required of someone with no judicial record. She has failed to inform us on how she would judge as an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. With no record to read, there is heightened scrutiny on the nominee. I did not have the opportunity to get full, forthcoming answers from Ms. Kagan when I questioned her. Instead, I got the same vapid, vacuous answers that she herself condemned in her law review article in the mid-1990s about judicial nomination hearings. If she had been more forthcoming, perhaps I would have been able to come to a different conclusion.”
With LeMieux -- who was appointed to the office by Gov. Charlie Crist -- not seeking election in his own right, the candidates looking to take his place also weighed in on Kagan’s confirmation.
"Today, our nation takes a step forward in elevating Elena Kagan to the highest court in the land,” said U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, who is in a close battle with billionaire financier Jeff Greene for the Democratic nomination to succeed LeMieux. “A pioneer in her own right as the first female dean of Harvard Law School and the nation's first female solicitor general, Ms. Kagan brings a practical and level-headed perspective to the bench. ..."
Former House Speaker Marco Rubio, the heavy favorite to be the Republican nominee in the race, opposed Kagan’s nomination, saying she is too much of a judicial activist to be trusted on the Supreme Court.
“Elena Kagan is an intelligent and accomplished individual, but if I were in the Senate today, I would cast a vote against her confirmation to the Supreme Court,” said Rubio. “My judgment is based on a review of her track record and confirmation hearing performance, which left me with no assurances that she clearly appreciates that the proper role of a judge is not to create laws, but to strictly interpret and apply the law within the parameters of our Constitution."
Added Rubio, “Activist judges are all too common throughout America’s judiciary system. Just yesterday, we saw another example in California, as a federal judge ruled against California’s constitutional amendment regarding traditional marriage. It serves as another reminder of the importance of judges in our government, and of the important role U.S. senators have in reviewing judicial nominees and casting votes that shape our federal judiciary.”
Crist -- who left the Republican Party after Rubio caught up with him in the polls, then continued his campaign for the Senate as an independent -- backed Kagan‘s nomination despite opposing Sonia Sotomayor, Obama‘s other nomination to the Supreme Court.
Greene also praised Kagan's confirmation. "Congratulations to Justice Elena Kagan," he said. "Her confirmation as the newest associate justice on the United States Supreme Court is an historic milestone: For the first time, three women now serve on the highest court in America. Her commitment to the Constitution will serve America well."
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