When we posted our first batch of reactions yesterday to Elena Kagan’s testimony, words like “candid,” “responsive,” and “forthright” came up a lot. Those reactions didn’t change with her second day of questioning – Senator Arlen Specter reiterated that she’s been “more forthcoming than most” for example -- but this time there was even more focus on just how impressive she has been. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, having held a notably interesting and substantive exchange with Kagan, closed out his remarks telling her, “You have handled yourself well… I wish you well and I know your family's proud of you and I think you've accorded yourself well for the last several days.” Similarly, Republican Senator Tom Coburn told her “you're doing quite well.”
Perhaps the foremost reason she earned those reactions was her sheer mastery of the law. CNN Contributor Jeffrey Toobin noted that, “every time she is asked a question about a subject area in the law, say separation of church and state, which is a subject she dealt with this morning, she displays enormous mastery of the subject.” Jonathan Adler was even more stark, writing that “Without the benefit of staff-scripted questions or talking points, she demonstrated greater command of the legal questions, demonstrating why she was the only person in the room under consideration for the nation's highest court.”
So where does that leave Elena Kagan? There was perhaps more consensus on that point than anything. Republican Senator Orrin Hatch said flatly that “she will be confirmed,” an assessment that Republican Senator John Cornyn shared. McClatchy headlined their piece “Kagan Cruises on Day 3 Toward Easy Confirmation,” the AP went with “Kagan Hearings Near End With Confirmation Likely,” and Reuters wrote “Supreme Court Pick Kagan Sailing Through Senate Hearing.”
Here was the Boston Globe’s take:
Kagan Sails Through Last Day of Questioning.” “Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan emerged yesterday from her last day of Capitol Hill testimony on track to join the nation’s highest court, as key senators on both sides of the aisle said they anticipated her full Senate confirmation after she breezed through two days of meticulous and often aggressive questioning by members of the Judiciary Committee. Over some 17 hours of direct questioning, the former dean of Harvard Law School demonstrated a wide command of constitutional law, deftly deflected Republican attacks on her record, and charmed the committee with a self-deprecating sense of humor.