Elena Kagan Confirmed

The Senate has confirmed Elena Kagan, the current Solicitor General, to the United States Supreme Court. The vote of 63-37 today was largely along party lines, with five Republicans supporting the nominee and one Democrat, Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, opposing her. Also voting against Kagan was Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts. In the end, Kagan received fewer Republican votes than Justice Sotomayor, who was supported by nine in her 68-31 confirmation on Aug. 6, 2009.

Kagan becomes the nation’s 112th justice, fourth woman and just the sixth member of the court who isn’t a white male. For the first time, the nine-member court will have three women, Ruth Ginsberg appointed by President Clinton and Sonia Sotomayor appointed last year by President Obama.

More from the New York Times. And for history buffs, this report from the Congressional Research Service (pdf) provides a detailed history of Supreme Court Nominations from 1789 through 2009.

Quick Hits

Here are some other items making the rounds today.

It's primary day in Kansas, Michigan, and Missouri. CNN has an overview.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid continues to hold a narrow edge over the Tea Party extremist Sharron Angle in Nevada in the latest Reuters-Ipsos poll Among voters who said they are likely to vote, Reid held a 48-44 percent lead.

The Senate on Tuesday opened floor debate of on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Five Republicans have already stated their intention to confirm while one Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, will not vote to confirm. The vote will likely be held Thursday or perhaps Friday before the Senate adjourns for its August recess. More from the New York Times.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs acknowledged Tuesday that President Obama's presence in some districts would hurt Democratic candidates in the midterm elections. The Hill has more on Gibbs' remarks.

David Corn of Mother Jones profiles the outgoing GOP Rep. Bob Inglis of South Carolina who was ousted by the Tea Party backed candidate Trey Gowdy. In the article, Congressman Inglis Bob Inglis slams Republican demagoguery, bemoans anti-Semitic tea party conspiracy nonsense, decries Sarah Palin's ignorance, while he looks for a job.

Speaking of conservative extremism and purity tests in South Carolina, the Greenville County Republican Party voted 61 to 2 to rebuke Senator Lindsey Graham for not being conservative enough. The story from CNN.

 

Nelson will not vote for Elena Kagan

Senator Ben Nelson, who gets his jollies pretending to be a Democrat, just announced that he will NOT vote for Elena Kagan. Apparently he believes that only judges should be nominated to the Supreme Court, never mind that over a third of past justices have not been judges, including the first four Chief Justices: John Jay, John Rutledge, Oliver Ellsworth, and John Marshall. Too antiquated, you say? Then how about modern Chief Justices Earl Warren or WILLIAM REHNQUIST?

At least Nelson says he won't filibuster. His statement over at First Read:

“As a member of the bipartisan ‘Gang of 14,’ I will follow our agreement that judicial nominees should be filibustered only under extraordinary circumstances. If a cloture vote is held on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court, I am prepared to vote for cloture and oppose a filibuster because, in my view, this nominee deserves an up or down vote in the Senate.

“However, I have heard concerns from Nebraskans regarding Ms. Kagan, and her lack of a judicial record makes it difficult for me to discount the concerns raised by Nebraskans, or to reach a level of comfort that these concerns are unfounded. Therefore, I will not vote to confirm Ms. Kagan’s nomination.”

Ben Nelson will do anything to appear "independent," even if it means forever flushing logic, truth, and dare I say integrity down the toilet. He is the worst lawmaker in the United States Senate. He is harmful to America and harmful to the citizens of Nebraska. Just yesterday I sent him a letter that used the word "Pbbbbbbbbtttttthhhhhhhh" in response to his announcement that he will do whatever it takes to bring down Nebraska agriculture and vote against climate legislation. Remember also that although he did vote for the final product, Nelson filibustered the first attempt to pass cloture on financial reform, and that he is the reason it took so long to pass an extension of unemployment benefits. Forget the word progressive, and forget the phrase Blue Dog - this man is not even a Democrat.

And of course he would announce this on a Friday afternoon, just as everyone is checking out for the weekend. Cowardly slime ball.

Let's end this post on a related but lighter note: Republican Judd Gregg did announce that he will vote for Kagan. At least that's nice. Thank you, Senator Gregg, along with Senators Graham, Lugar, Collins, and Snowe, for putting country ahead of party, unlike so many of your colleagues.

Weekly Pulse: Uncovered Abortions, Toxic Mani-Pedis, and Kagan’s a Go

by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

Last week, the Obama administration preemptively caved to the anti-choice lobby by declaring that new high-risk insurance pools, a byproduct of recent health care legislation, will not cover abortions, even if states or patients pay for that coverage with their own money. Under health care reform, states must create high-risk insurance pools for people with preexisting conditions. These pools will be phased out in 2014 when the new insurance exchange comes online.

As you may recall, the Nelson amendment to the health care reform bill says that the federal government can’t pay for abortion coverage in the exchanges, but it doesn’t mention the high-risk pools. There is no overarching ban that would preclude federal funds for abortion coverage in the high-risk pools. The Obama administration’s ruling is purely a lack of political courage. In fact, as Jessica Arons explains at RH Reality Check, the pool rules are even stricter than Nelson’s rules for the exchange.

Hey, you! Outta the high-risk pool!

The Nelson amendment was hailed as a compromise because it gave women the option of buying their own abortion coverage. Now, the Obama administration has taken that option away from women in high-risk pools. This is especially troubling because high-risk pools are supposed to help people with chronic medical conditions—who might be more likely to need an abortion. That means that more women with diabetes and cancer will have to pay out of pocket for abortions to preserve their health.

Michelle Chen of ColorLines accuses the Obama administration of selling out women of color to avoid the wrath of the anti-choice lobby. She predicts that women of color will be disproportionately affected by these restrictions because they are more likely to end up in the high-risk pools in the first place.

Nail in the Coffin

In the latest of a series of videos on occupational health and safety, Brave New Films shines a spotlight on toxic chemicals in the nail salon industry. Currently, there are almost no federal regulations on what manufacturers can put in professional beauty products. The nail care industry is booming. There over a hundred thousand manicurists in California alone, most are female, and a large percentage are Vietnamese immigrants. Salon workers breathe a toxic soup of chemicals, many of which have never been tested on humans. Brave New Films is circulating a petition calling on Congress to protect workers by supporting safe cosmetics legislation.

Kagan gets the nod

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court by a vote of 13-6. The outcome of Tuesday’s vote was never in doubt. Many were mildly surprised to see that Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) voted in Kagan’s favor. Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly predicts that the vote will ensure that Graham will get a conservative primary challenger. But Benen also doesn’t see what all the fuss is about.

[...] I still find the right’s outrage over Graham to be pretty silly. He’s voting for a qualified Supreme Court nominee? The horror! Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed on a 96 to 3 vote when her nomination was sent to the floor. How many of those Republicans were threatened with primary challenges because of it?

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Weekly Pulse: Uncovered Abortions, Toxic Mani-Pedis, and Kagan’s a Go

by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

Last week, the Obama administration preemptively caved to the anti-choice lobby by declaring that new high-risk insurance pools, a byproduct of recent health care legislation, will not cover abortions, even if states or patients pay for that coverage with their own money. Under health care reform, states must create high-risk insurance pools for people with preexisting conditions. These pools will be phased out in 2014 when the new insurance exchange comes online.

As you may recall, the Nelson amendment to the health care reform bill says that the federal government can’t pay for abortion coverage in the exchanges, but it doesn’t mention the high-risk pools. There is no overarching ban that would preclude federal funds for abortion coverage in the high-risk pools. The Obama administration’s ruling is purely a lack of political courage. In fact, as Jessica Arons explains at RH Reality Check, the pool rules are even stricter than Nelson’s rules for the exchange.

Hey, you! Outta the high-risk pool!

The Nelson amendment was hailed as a compromise because it gave women the option of buying their own abortion coverage. Now, the Obama administration has taken that option away from women in high-risk pools. This is especially troubling because high-risk pools are supposed to help people with chronic medical conditions—who might be more likely to need an abortion. That means that more women with diabetes and cancer will have to pay out of pocket for abortions to preserve their health.

Michelle Chen of ColorLines accuses the Obama administration of selling out women of color to avoid the wrath of the anti-choice lobby. She predicts that women of color will be disproportionately affected by these restrictions because they are more likely to end up in the high-risk pools in the first place.

Nail in the Coffin

In the latest of a series of videos on occupational health and safety, Brave New Films shines a spotlight on toxic chemicals in the nail salon industry. Currently, there are almost no federal regulations on what manufacturers can put in professional beauty products. The nail care industry is booming. There over a hundred thousand manicurists in California alone, most are female, and a large percentage are Vietnamese immigrants. Salon workers breathe a toxic soup of chemicals, many of which have never been tested on humans. Brave New Films is circulating a petition calling on Congress to protect workers by supporting safe cosmetics legislation.

Kagan gets the nod

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court by a vote of 13-6. The outcome of Tuesday’s vote was never in doubt. Many were mildly surprised to see that Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) voted in Kagan’s favor. Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly predicts that the vote will ensure that Graham will get a conservative primary challenger. But Benen also doesn’t see what all the fuss is about.

[...] I still find the right’s outrage over Graham to be pretty silly. He’s voting for a qualified Supreme Court nominee? The horror! Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed on a 96 to 3 vote when her nomination was sent to the floor. How many of those Republicans were threatened with primary challenges because of it?

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

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