How does it add anything to a SCOTUS nominees qualifications when it is noted that a nominees life story is inspirational, a real American rags-to-riches success story, and so forth and so on? While the life experiences of Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor are certainly a made-for-TV movie waiting to happen, they have nothing to do with being a Supreme Court justice. If anything, those life experiences tend to suggest a certain subjective POV that leans toward one specific ideological perspective and its not one conservatives can support. But thats hardly a surprise.
Its difficult to believe that President Obama doesnt know exactly what hes getting in Elena Kagan. What we know about her so far is enough to suggest to me two things one, she leans progressive; and two, she doesnt have any judicial experience. The latter doesnt technically disqualify her from serving as a Supreme Court justice, as others have accurately pointed out. However, this gives greater importance to her writings and speeches, and her actions as a law professor. Those evaluating her fitness for this job will have to look at everything she has said and done in the past, and try to accurately predict which way she will go as a Supreme Court justice. This evaluation will be completed before Elena Kagan gets her first question in the Senate confirmation hearings.
Many Democrats have already started lining up behind the Presidents pick, while Republicans are promising to ask hard questions that are unlikely to be answered. Thats the way this kabuki theater works. Actually ask hard questions of SCOTUS nominees from the opposing party that you will never get a straight answer to, and in the end the nominee gets through, unless he/she is fatally flawed like Harriet Miers.
Honestly, Im ok with this. Many pundits find their latest column idea by disparaging the way nominees are told to handle their confirmation hearings. Since both sides have already made up their minds about the nominee before the hearings ever take place, the questions will always be a formality. When was the last time we learned something useful from SCOTUS confirmation hearings? Bork. Right. If straight-up answers keep qualified candidates from making it to the high court, then Im all for the non-sequiturs. Besides, its not likely that anything said in the hearings would turn a Democrat against Elena Kagan, and since the Republicans could very well be so open-minded their brains fall out, they could decide that theres no point in opposing a nominee when her confirmation is more than likely.