Constitutional Interpretation? There's No App For That. Elena Kagan Needs to Talk Honestly About What Supreme Court Justices Really Do

Sonja R. West, University of Georgia School of Law

Slate, June 23, 2010


The confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan begin Monday, and court watchers are steeling themselves for another round of the vacuous Q&A that has become the stuff of modern confirmation hearings. It's a tedious process that has been widely and rightly criticized—most notably by Kagan herself. Kagan the Academic wrote a piece in 1995 urging nominees to openly discuss their views on substantive law. Kagan the Nominee, on the other hand, probably thinks that the less she says about real legal issues, the better the odds that she'll soon be donning a new black robe. The belief that it's career suicide for a nominee to talk about any actual cases is a dubious one, but sadly it's prevalent enough that such a discussion is unlikely.