Associate Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan said that the highest court in the land risks losing legitimacy without a centrist swing-vote, reports Bloomberg.
In Friday comments made just hours after the US Senate cleared the way for USSC nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Kagan said that the court benefitted from having centrist Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy over the past 30-plus years.
The presence of O’Connor and Kennedy “enabled the court to look as though it was not owned by one side or another and was indeed impartial and neutral and fair,” Kagan said to an audience at Princeton University. “And it’s not so clear that, you know, I think going forward that sort of middle position — you know, it’s not so clear whether we’ll have it.”
She added: “All of us need to be aware of that, every single one of us and to realize how precious the court’s legitimacy is.” –Bloomberg
Of course, accusing a Supreme Court nominee of orchestrating a high school gang-rape scheme with zero evidence may also wear on the court’s legitimacy, but we digress.
Kavanaugh’s ascension to the USSC will give the court a five-justice conservative bloc, led by Chief Justice John Roberts who will set the pace for how quickly the court will move on various matters.
Without mentioning Kavanaugh by name, Kagan appeared with fellow Obama-appointed Justice Sonia Sotomayor – both Princeton graduates – where they sought to distance themselves from the political circus that has dominated Washington over Kavanaugh’s nomination.
“We have to rise above partisanship in our personal relationships,” Sotomayor said. “We have to treat each other with respect and dignity and with a sense of amicability that the rest of the world doesn’t often share.”
Justice Elena Kagan: "In the last, really 30 years, starting with Justice O'Connor and continuing with Justice Kennedy, there has been a person who found the center or people couldn't predict in that sort of way." pic.twitter.com/7Yr78M3cke
— The Hill (@thehill) October 6, 2018
Kagan expanded on that, saying: “This is a really divided time, and part of the court’s strength and part of the court’s legitimacy depends on people not seeing the court in the way that people see the rest of the governing structures of this country.”
Kagan said the court needs to protect its institutional reputation by staying “somehow above the fray, even if not always and in every case. It’s an incredibly important thing for the court to guard.”
She said the justices can’t afford to hold grudges because they would lose the ability to persuade their colleagues in future cases. –Bloomberg
“We live in this world where it’s just the nine of us,” Kagan added. “We are the consummate repeat players.”
Yes, we’re sure Kavanaugh won’t hold a grudge after his entire life’s work was reduced to unfounded and refuted claims of sexual assault 36 years ago.