Final Countdown to Kagan Hearings Begins … With More Bork

June 21, 2010 | Last updated: July 31, 2020

Less than a week now remains until the beginning of Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings — the Senate Judiciary Committee announced today that Kagan’s hearings will begin at 12:30 p.m. on June 28. To mark the occasion, we were all treated to more past references by Kagan to failed Reagan court nominee Robert Bork.

Earlier this afternoon, released a short clip of a 1997 Case Western Reserve University speech in which Kagan said she thought Bork’s 1987 hearings “were the best thing that ever happened to Constitutional Democracy.” Here’s what she said:

I loved what happened in the Bork hearings. I wrote a review of Stephen Carter’s book recently where I said, “no, he has it all wrong. The Bork hearings were great, the Bork hearings were educational. The Bork hearings were the best thing that ever happened to Constitutional Democracy.” So, I share that view with Professor Toulouse.

Though Kagan herself was tight-lipped in her confirmation hearing for Solicitor General last year, ABC News’ Ariane de Vogue reports that Kagan had given even more effusive praise for the way the Bork hearings were conducted in a law review article published two years before the speech.

In the article, Kagan wrote that Bork’s hearing should be a “model” for all others, because even though it ended in the candidate’s rejection, the hearings presented an opportunity for the Senate and the nominee to engage on controversial issues and educate the public.

“Not since Bork,” she said, “has any nominee candidly discussed, or felt a need to discuss, his or her views and philosophy.”

This morning, before the video of Kagan’s speech went online, we learned that Bork himself is opposed to Kagan’s confirmation and will come out against her during an Americans United for Life news conference Wednesday.

While Kagan may not choose to give expansive replies to senators’ questions, there is a massive paper trail for political junkies to read through. The Senate Judiciary Committee has uploaded all of the materials she submitted to them. All of the files Bill Clinton’s presidential library released in the last few weeks on Kagan’s White House work are also available online via the National Archives.