"I will work hard, and I will do my best to consider every case, impartially, modestly, with commitment to principle, and in accordance with law," pledged Solicitor General Elena Kagan during her opening statement at her Supreme Court Confirmation hearing yesterday. Kagan's hearing began with few surprises, except for one—the specter of Justice Thurgood Marshall, her former boss.
Kagan spent a year clerking for Marshall when she was 28, and her service to the man she calls a "judicial hero" makes Republicans dubious of her claim of judicial impartiality. Marshall, who famously argued Brown v. Board in front of the nation's highest court and went on to become its first black justice, is being painted by conservatives as "a well-known liberal activist judge," as Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, ranking Republican on the Judiciary committee, described him.
Marshall's name was mentioned more times yesterday than President Obama's, confirming the suspicions of some court observers who believed that Kagan's clerkship would prove to be a liability for her. Our man on the Hill, Todd Zwillich was watching the hearing and tells us about how lawmakers are reacting to yesterday's events.