Graham’s vote for Kagan, in his own words

To follow up on the previous, here’s how Lindsey Graham explained his vote for Elena Kagan for the court.

I have defended, and will defend, our senior senator for his thoughtfulness, while at the same time being mortified that it is necessary to defend someone for acting with intellectual honesty and not acting like a partisan automaton. What has our country come to that this sort of thought-based action has to be defended? What happened to us that such principle has become so rare?

In any case, he defends himself better than I could.

I like in particular that he gave a Federalist explanation for his decision. It harks back to a time when intelligence and principle were not rare at all in this country:

Graham Supports Kagan Nomination

WASHINGTON – Citing the Constitutional and historical role the Senate has played in Supreme Court nominations, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today said he would support the nomination of Elena Kagan.

“No one, outside of maybe John McCain, spent more time trying to beat President Obama than I did,” said Graham.  “But we lost and President Obama won.”

Graham cited Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Number 76 in listing the reasons he would vote for Kagan.  Graham noted Hamilton wrote, “To what purpose then require the cooperation of the Senate?  I answer that the necessity of their concurrence would have a powerful, though in general a silent operation.  It would be an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the president, would tend generally to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from family connection, from personal attachment, and from a view to popularity.”

“The Constitution puts a requirement on me, as a senator, to not replace my judgment for the President’s,” said Graham.  “I’m not supposed to think of the 100 reasons I would pick somebody different.  It puts upon me a standard that stood the test of time: Is the person qualified?  Is it a person of good character?  Are they someone that understands the difference between being a judge and a politician?  And, quite frankly, I think she’s passed all those tests.”

“Are we taking the language of the Constitution that stood the test of time and putting a political standard in the place of a constitutional standard?” asked Graham.  “Objectively speaking, things are changing, and they’re unnerving to me.  The court is the most fragile of the three branches.  So while it is our responsibility to challenge and scrutinize the court, it is also our obligation to honor elections, respect elections, and protect the court.”

“I view my role as a United States Senator in part by protecting the independence of the judiciary, and by making sure that hard-fought elections have meaning in terms of their results within our Constitution,” said Graham.  “At the end of the day, Ms. Kagan is not someone I would have chosen, but I think she will serve honorably.”


10 thoughts on “Graham’s vote for Kagan, in his own words

  1. Brad

    Right. And isn’t it horrible that that’s remarkable? He’s the one member of the committee that we know did that.

  2. Bart

    And who said a “no” vote would be a “party line vote”? I oppose her confirmation for reasons other than “party line”.

  3. Ralph Hightower

    What the Tea Baggers, Jim DeMint and Nikki Haley included (since she as a state governor wannabe weighed in), don’t realize is “What goes around, comes around”. When the tables are turned and there’s a Republican president, then the Democrats are going to do to the Republicans what the Republicans did to the Democrats.

  4. Brad

    Bart, as I said on the previous post on the subject, no doubt SOME of the Democrats and Republicans who voted party-line were actually voting their own consciences.

    But Lindsey Graham is the only member of the committee who we KNOW was doing so…

    Of course, to take your question another way — no matter whether they were voting their consciences or not, it certainly was (except for Graham) a party line vote. The only way a “no” vote could NOT have been a party line vote would have been if a Democrat had voted “no.”

  5. Bart

    @Ralph – the Democrats did the same thing to Reagan and Bush nominees as well. As you said, what goes around, comes around.

  6. Doug Ross

    Think Lindsey can convince his best-pal John McCain to vote for Kagan? Nope, not this at this time. McCain has to pretend to be a far right winger in order to win his primary. Then he can go back to being the old Maverick again. What a sad, sad joke McCain has become. He launched Palin and torpedoed his own legacy all within two years.

    There’s a devastating piece on McCain in New York magazine that has a quote from one of McCain’s memoirs:

    But if “Worth the Fighting For,” McCain’s 2002 book, is any guide, it’s easy enough to imagine what he might say after November should he win reelection. In that book, McCain admitted that in the 2000 presidential primary, he’d supported South Carolina’s right to fly the Confederate flag against his own belief that it was a symbol of racism.

    “‘I didn’t want to do this,’ he says. ‘But I could tell from the desperate looks of my staff that we had an enormous’problem. And that it could come down to lying or losing. I chose lying.”

    Imagine that. Choosing lying over losing.

  7. Doug Ross

    John McCain – “Founding Father of the Tea Party”

    Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
    Palin and Joe The Plumber wouldn’t exist without him.

  8. Kathryn Fenner

    I liked the part where Dick Durbin said Graham’s stance made him rethink Durbin’s prior opposition to Bush nominees.

    Way to go, Lindsey!

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