A hearty congratulations to credentialed academic and experienced lawyer Elena Kagan on the occasion of her confirmation to the Supreme Court. She was confirmed by the Senate, 63-37, with five Republican votes (CollinsandSnow, Lugar, Graham, Judd Gregg). The quite strict party-line vote (oh Ben Nelson also voted with the Republicans because fuck Ben Nelson) was the Senate’s way of telling the President what he’s in for, in the event that, say, swing vote Anthony Kennedy or conservative Antonin Scalia leaves the court during an Obama administration (both are 74).
Look, it is of course legitimate to vote against a Supreme Court nominee for ideological reasons—as then-Senator Obama voted Nay on John Roberts—and it is, of course, even legitimate to filibuster a nominee who’s ideologically beyond the pale (Obama was one of 25 Democrat senators who voted against a motion to end debate on the nomination of Sam Alito, who was pretty borderline). But it’s also in the best interests of the Senate—and, you know, America—to not have the minority party reflexively block consideration of reasonable, worthy proposals with which it happens to disagree. Not, as George Packer so exhaustively reminds us this week, that the Senate is remotely capable of acting in its own best interests. Let’s hope there’s not another vacancy on the Supreme Court until such time as Americans have made clear their disgust with the filibuster.