Building a Consensus of One
This morning President Obama announced Elena Kagan as his nominee to be a justice of the Supreme Court. His praise was effusive, calling her "one of the nation's foremost legal minds." The same article tells us:
A source close to the selection process said a central element in Obama's choice was Kagan's reputation for bringing together people of competing views and earning their respect.
Earlier Mike Allen, writing in the Huffington Post reported:
And President Obama considers her to be a persuasive, fearless advocate who would serve as an intellectual counterweight to Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia, and could lure swing Justice Kennedy into some coalitions.
I have to conclude from these reports that the President and the far left believe that Ms. Kagan will be successful in building a consensus of one: Justice Anthony Kennedy, the so-called swing vote on the Supreme Court. Once again, on display is the President's adament belief that "competing views" can be flipped if presented with the right "counterweight."
I can't help but wonder if Justice Kennedy is insulted by this. President Obama and Ms. Kagan obviously consider him to be a lightweight with convictions as substantial as dandelion puffs. Faced with a colleague with no judicial experience and a paper trail notable only in that it is bigger than the President's, the White House believes that Justice Kennedy will fold like a cheap card table.
I'm unsure where this belief in Ms. Kagan's potential power of persuasion over Justice Kennedy comes from. After all, she was the Solicitor General arguing the government's case against Citizens United. She failed then to build a consensus with the Justice to uphold bans on campaign spending by corporations.
The President believes that Justice Kennedy will agree with whoever makes their point most convincingly. If I were Justice Kennedy, I'd find that patronizing.