Just because Elena Kagan is white didn’t stop Republicans from injecting race into her Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
The second day of the confirmation hearings of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court was marked by some substantive dialogue, respectful banter and even an exchange of ethnic humor between the nominee and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Republicans and Democrats alike seemed to have forgotten the previous day’s tensions. But for many of us who’d sat in stunned silence while Republicans members of the committee used their opening statements to unleash an orchestrated disparagement of the record and legacy of Supreme Court justice and civil rights icon Thurgood Marshall, the wounds still felt raw.
The invocation of Marshall (35 times by Republicans) was a surprising new low, even for the shameless opportunism of modern confirmation hearings. At first it seemed astonishing as senator after senator — Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), John Cornyn (R-Texas) — disparaged nominee Kagan’s “association” with Thurgood Marshall. But the abandonment of the “Marshall as slur” tactic on day two suggests that the Republican senators’ opening-day sucker punch may have backfired.