Scott Brown Was Never Going to Vote for Elena Kagan

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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Though he had a lot of nice things to say about Elena Kagan today — including that she's "brilliant" and has an "impressive résumé" — Massachusetts Republican senator Scott Brown will not vote to confirm her to the Supreme Court. It won't hurt Kagan's prospects, as 63 senators have already committed to supporting her, but it will ruin our confirmation-vote prediction from two months ago. (In truth, Nebraska's Ben Nelson, the only Democrat not supporting Kagan, already did that.) Brown was considered a gettable, and perhaps even likely, Republican vote, based on his early comments about Kagan, his maverick-y tendencies, and the fact that Kagan was the dean of Harvard Law School in his home state.

Ultimately, though, Brown couldn't get past Kagan's lack of experience on the bench and scant experience in the courtroom.

I cannot vote to confirm Elena Kagan. The reason is simple. I believe nominees to the Supreme Court should have previously served on the bench. Lacking that, I look for many years of practical courtroom experience to compensate for the absence of prior judicial experience. In Elena Kagan’s case, she is missing both.

So, really, Brown could have just come out against Kagan the moment her nomination was announced. It didn't matter whether or not she could demonstrate during the confirmation hearings that, despite never having served as a judge, she possesses a masterful understanding of constitutional issues. Her judicial philosophy, her record — none of it mattered. Kind of made it disingenuous, then, when Brown, as Kagan's home-state senator, said this in his introductory remarks to the Senate Judiciary Committee in June:

I look forward to Ms. Kagan's responses to the committee's questions. I know that I have some of my own, and I am quite sure that my colleagues here today do as well. Our constitutional duty of "advice and consent" is imperative and should not be taken lightly. In closing, I look forward to a thorough and fair examination of Ms. Kagan's record.

What he meant was, "You can all go ahead and try to learn something about Elena Kagan, but I've already made up my mind. Have fun with that, though."

Scott Brown To Oppose Elena Kagan [TPM DC]