Day Three Recap: Elena Kagan’s Slip-up As Hearings Conclude

Day Three Recap: Elena Kagan’s Slip-up As Hearings Conclude


There weren’t too many noticeable missteps by Elena Kagan during the Supreme Court nominee pick’s confirmation hearings — until the third day, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The hearings began Monday with opening statements; on Tuesday Kagan began fielding questions about her stances on an array of issues.

But oddly enough, the question hurled at Kagan from lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee that opened the door for a GOP attack concerned fruits and vegetables, the L.A. Times said:

“But perhaps no amount of cramming could have readied her for the question asked of her by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma: Can the government, he wondered, pass a law forcing Americans to eat fruits and vegetables?

To Kagan, at first blush, the question must have seemed absurd, maybe even a joke. ‘It sounds like a dumb law,’ she replied off the cuff. Then, realizing Coburn was serious, she segued into sort of the windy, contextual, cautious analysis that she has employed to answer most of the questions asked of her over the last two days.

But she had fallen into Coburn’s trap by answering more like the law professor she is than by simply responding like most people would. She never just said: ‘Of course it can’t.'”

The Times noted that conservatives had a “field day” with the exchange as Kagan’s response went viral.

Coburn’s interpretation of Kagan’s answer was that federal legislations “have the right to tell us anything we want — anything the federal government tells you to do, you’re going to do.”

Still, it is widely expected that Kagan, 50, will be confirmed. The Washington Post said as much by noting, “Her harshest critics Tuesday were beaming at her Wednesday. ‘I know this hasn’t been the most pleasant experience for you,’ said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).”

The Senate Judiciary Committee went into closed session to deliberate late Wednesday afternoon.