Although age must have been a factor in Justice Stevens stepping down from the United States Supreme Court, no doubt his leaving was timed to allow his replacement to be chosen by a president of a similar ideological bent. While Stevens could have rolled the actuarial dice for another year or two of Obama’s term, the prospect of electoral disaster for Democrats in the Senate this November, leading to an uphill confirmation battle for future Obama nominees, could very well have hastened his departure.
Obama described Justice Stevens as “brilliant, non-ideological, pragmatic” and one who “applied the Constitution and the laws of the land with fidelity and restraint.” The “non-ideological” Justice Stevens’ legacy includes, inter alia, defending abortion rights and expanding constitutional protection for homosexual activity. In a similar “non-ideological” vein, Obama nominated Elena Kagan, the current Solicitor General and former dean of Harvard Law School, as Stevens’ replacement. On August 5, 2010, the Senate confirmed Ms. Kagan by a vote of 63 to 37.
Since May 2009, Kagan has served in the Obama Administration and has no doubt been well-groomed for her role as supreme court justice in the eyes of the one who nominated her. Her lack of real-world experience on either side of the bench left little in the way of a paper trail by which the Senate could gauge her principles and judicial philosophy. However, during her confirmation hearings, pro-life groups uncovered and exposed evidence of her extreme pro-abortion bias, which led her to use her position in the Clinton White House to manipulate the factual record in the first partial birth abortion case, directly affecting the outcome of that case. [Read more.]
“Although less than 50% of the country supported her confirmation, little could be done to stop it with a Democrat-controlled pro-abortion Congress,” states Dana Cody, President and Executive Director of Life Legal Defense Foundation. The balance of power on the Court will not shift, and Kagan may not initially have the judicial experience to be the calculating strategist that Stevens was. Even so, the right to life will still not be championed by a majority of the Court.