CNN's Borger endorses GOP's "Kagan (double) standard"

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

On CNN yesterday, Gloria Borger appeared to endorse Republican efforts to hold Elena Kagan to the so-called "Kagan standard":

And it's really interesting. They're also going to hold her to her own words during the confirmation fight, because in some of her writings, she has called the confirmation process, I'm quoting here, "a rapid and hollow charade," in which she says the people who want to become justices don't answer questions. And so, I think this gives Republicans, in particular, an opportunity to hold her to what they're going to call the Kagan standard, which is that they want to get some direct answers to questions from her. So, that should provide for very interesting and hopefully illuminating hearing.

I find this baffling. The Republicans have an opportunity to apply the "Kagan standard" only if they don't mind being completely hypocritical, and only if media -- like Gloria Borger -- chose not to point out their hypocrisy. See, as Media Matters has noted, recent nominees have refused to answer questions about issues that may come before the Supreme Court -- and Republicans have said it would be inappropriate for nominees to answer those questions. For the GOP to now argue that Kagan should answer such questions is a glaring double-standard.

It's possible to construct a reasonable argument that Kagan can be held to her previous arguments (though Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, among others, doesn't seem to buy that.) But it isn't at all reasonable to suggest, as Borger does, that the Republicans are not bound by their own previous arguments. In saying Republicans had an "opportunity" to apply the "Kagan standard" without noting that doing so would conflict with their own previous behavior, Borger essentially endorsed the GOP's double-standard. That's particularly bizarre in light of the fact that Senators, not nominees, set the standards for confirmation hearings -- after all, they get to vote on the nominee. The standards Republican Senators set during the Bush administration are thus more relevant than something Kagan wrote 15 years ago.

Gloria Borger
Elena Kagan
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