Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Dana Milbank reports on a moment at the Kagan hearings involving Texas senator John Cornyn of Texas:

... Cornyn began his opening statement with a quotation that he said he received in an e-mail: "Liberty is not a cruise ship full of pampered passengers. Liberty is a man of war, and we're all the crew."

"I don't know why I thought of that," Cornyn told the perplexed audience.

Source for that quote? Kenneth W. Royce, otherwise known as "Boston T. Party," from his self-published 800-plus-page looney-right classic Boston's Gun Bible (sample chapters: "Creeping Citizen Disarmament," "Coercive Buy-up Programs," and "When the Raids Come"). He's also the author of Good-bye April 15th!, which argues that, as one chapter title puts it, "The IRS Has No Jurisdiction Over You," as well as Hologram of Liberty: The Constitution's Shocking Alliance with Big Government (yes, even the Constitution is too far to the left for this guy), Boston on Surviving Y2K (still in print!), You & the Police! and One Nation Under Surveillance, an updated edition of his earlier book Bulletproof Privacy, which, according to Wikipedia, "covers how to maintain privacy" using "both legal methods and those of questionable (or jurisdiction-dependent) legality."

Sooner or later, I'm sure his books will be worked into the curriculum in Senator Cornyn's home state.


Of course, what's getting the most attention from the hearings is, as Milbank notes, this:

... As confirmation hearings opened Monday afternoon, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee took the unusual approach of attacking Kagan because she admired the late justice Thurgood Marshall, for whom she clerked more than two decades ago.

"Justice Marshall's judicial philosophy," said Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, "is not what I would consider to be mainstream." Kyl -- the lone member of the panel in shirtsleeves for the big event -- was ready for a scrap. Marshall "might be the epitome of a results-oriented judge," he said.

It was, to say the least, a curious strategy to go after Marshall, the iconic civil rights lawyer who successfully argued
Brown vs. Board of Education....

Brian Beutler of Talking Points Memo notes this:

GOPers Who Slammed Marshall's Activism Can't Name A Case Typifying It

...After the hearing broke last night, TPMDC asked three of the top Republicans on the Judiciary Committee which of Marshall's opinions best exemplified his activism. And while two of the three were careful to praise Marshall the man, none of them could name a single case.

"You could name them," said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). Pressed, though, he could not. "I'm not going to go into that right now, I'd be happy to do that later," Hatch demurred.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) claimed it wasn't about Marshall's jurisprudence at all, but rather about how Kagan, as his clerk, drove his work on the court behind the scenes....

Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-AL) came closest to citing individual cases, though ultimately fell back on a generalization....

But don't you see? The strategists who mapped this line of attack out didn't intend for the senators to be able to offer detailed backup for their argument. If this is going according to the usual script, the job of arguing the anti-Marshall line in detail will be handed off to a far-right Republican of non-European descent. The African American or Hispanic or Asian or Native American (maybe a woman -- a two-fer!) will write an op-ed for, say, The Wall Street Journal enumerating the supposed flaws in Marshall's jurisprudence. The op-ed will praise Marshall's role as a civil rights crusader; it will take him to task for other alleged sins. And the non-pink-skinned author of the piece will then appear repeatedly on Fox News and talk radio, restating the op-ed's bullet points.

Who's going to get the gig? Maybe Janice Rogers Brown or Miguel Estrada. Both are wingnut heroes, George W. Bush judicial appointees of color who were blocked by Senate Democrats. (Brown, who once compared liberalism to slavery in a speech, might have an approach that's a wee bit too harsh, however.) Or maybe it'll be an unknown. But righties are surely going to try to continue tarnishing Marshall, while giving themselves cover so they can say "Who, us?" when the racial dog whistle is identified as what it is.

No comments: