Kagan nomination hits roadblock

The Judiciary Committee vote on Elena Kagan is being delayed one week.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is postponing by one week its vote on the Supreme Court nomination of Elena Kagan after objections from the panel's top Republican.

The committee had planned to vote on Kagan's nomination Tuesday, but Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions invoked his privilege and was granted a one-week delay. The vote will be held July 20.

"I think we are cooperating in a fair way to move this nominee forward," Sessions said in asking for the automatic postponement.

Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said he thinks "everybody's made up their mind" on how to vote, he said.

Kagan's nomination is not polling well.   According to the latest numbers from Rasmussen:

..voters are almost evenly divided over whether Kagan should be confirmed by the full Senate: 39% say yes; 40% say no, and 20% are undecided.

By comparison, at this stage of the process last year, 41% supported the confirmation of the president's first Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, and 37% opposed it.

A delay may not be in Kagan's interest. In a we won't be fooled again moment after Justice's Sotomayor's vote in MacDonald v Chicago  the NRA has come out against the Kagan nomination

Therefore, the NRA is strongly opposed to Kagan's confirmation to the Court.

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, she refused to declare support for the Second Amendment, saying only that the matter was "settled law."

This was eerily similar to the scripted testimony of Justice Sonia Sotomayor last year, prior to her confirmation to the Court.  When pressed on the Second Amendment then, Sotomayor also referred to the issue as "settled law."

But in the recently decided case of McDonald v. City of Chicago, Sotomayor ignored the "settled law" of the Heller decision and signed a dissenting opinion that declared, "I can find nothing in the Second Amendment's text, history, or underlying rationale that could warrant characterizing it as ‘fundamental' insofar as it seeks to protect the keeping and bearing of arms for private self-defense purposes."

It has become obvious that "settled law" is the scripted code of an anti-gun nominee's confirmation effort.  The NRA is not fooled.  No member of the U.S. Senate should be either.

The NRA is running ads urging members and supporters to contact their Senators.  This puts Harry Reid and other Senate Democrats up for reelection in a bind.  They have to be seen as supporting the President's nominee but Reid is in a tight race and he has always scored high with the NRA.  He may be a liberal but Nevada was part of the Old West, a fact he has almost never forgotten.  Many Democrats know that their current majority status came when they stopped pushing gun control as an issue on the campaign trail.   Indeed, key races across the nation this year have Democrat candidates saying they are champions for gun rights.   The NRA's making this a scored vote for their endorsement greatly complicates matters for Democrat Senators defending seats in Arkansas, Colorado, Washington and Wisconsin.  Like House Democrats and the deficit ballooning budget that was deemed to be passed, they probably wish the matter would just go away. 

Could it happen?   Could Kagan's nomination wither on the vine? It's probably unlikely.  But at the back of my mind is the tale John Bolton tells in his excellent memoir Surrender is Not an Option, on how Harry Reid is a master of the rope a dope when it comes to killing a nomination while appearing to approve it going forward.  When Bolton was nominated as UN Ambassador in Spring 2005 that vote was also delayed in getting out of the committee. When it reached the floor of the Senate then Minority Leader Reid told Senate Majority leader Bill Frist the Democrats wouldn't filibuster. Frist then scheduled a cloture vote that failed because of absences from the Senate that day!   Reid again told Frist there was no filibuster.  Frist scheduled a second cloture vote which also failed, again not because 41 Senators voted No but because once again not everyone was present to vote!  Frist looked incompetent and Reid looked like a fox. 

It could happen.  The wimpiest of the Republicans are also from rural states where gun control is anathema. NRA members could influence them even if there inclination is to give the President his nominee.  This time as Majority Leader Reid would be the one looking like a fool for not counting heads ahead of time, but if he thought it would help save his seat?   Looking like a fool has seldom been an issue for Harry Reid.
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