Tuesday, November 16, 2010

And We Have Another Four Years of This

I got the following letter by email today from Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC). The letter dated November 16th was in response to emails and letters I sent Hagan opposing the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court in May and June. Is it any wonder that we have problems in Washington, DC when we send someone there who takes almost six months to respond to a constituent's letter? If I had sent the same letter or email to Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), I would have received a reply within two weeks. I may have even had a phone call from one of his staff explaining Burr's position on the issue.

Oh, by the way, Hagan did vote for Kagan. And to think, we in North Carolina - as well as the rest of the nation - have to deal with this for another four years before she comes up for re-election.

     November 16, 2010
Dear Friend,
Thank you for contacting me regarding the nomination of then Solicitor General Elena Kagan to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. I greatly appreciate hearing your thoughts on this important nomination.  I apologize for my delayed response.
On May 10, 2010, President Obama nominated Solicitor General Kagan to the Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. The Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings, beginning on June 28th, to closely examine Solicitor General Kagan's record and ask questions of her and a variety of witnesses. On July 20th the committee approved her nomination, and she was confirmed by the full Senate on August 5th. I voted in support of her nomination, along with a bipartisan majority of my colleagues. On August 7th, she was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
After attending Princeton University, Oxford University, and Harvard Law School, Justice Kagan worked as a clerk on both the Federal Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court under Justice Thurgood Marshall. After working in private practice, Justice Kagan began her career as a professor, teaching at the University of Chicago Law School. In 1995, she worked under President Clintion as Associate White House Counsel and then was named Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council. After her service in the White House, Justice Kagan returned to academia, becoming a professor at Harvard Law School and in 2003 she became the first women ever to be named Dean of Harvard Law School.
While I understand your concerns regarding several issues on which Justice Kagan commented during her tenure as Dean of Harvard Law School and as White House Counsel, I believe she will be a moderate and thoughtful Justice on the United States Supreme Court. She has repeatedly insisted that the military had full access to the students at Harvard Law at all times. In fact, during her tenure as Dean, the number of military recruits actually increased, not decreased. Additionally, the American Bar Association (ABA) unanimously found Justice Kagan to be "well-qualified," which is the highest rating the ABA gives to judicial nominees. Finally, she was endorsed by many prominent figures from both parties, including the eight Solicitors General that preceded her, a group comprised of members from the Reagan, Clinton, and both Bush administrations.
I want to make my position on Supreme Court nominees clear - I believe a justice's duty is to uphold the law, not make the law. In analyzing a nominee's record, I do not impose any litmus test, but I do pay particular attention to where he or she stands on privacy, civil rights and liberties granted under the Constitution.
I believe Justice Kagan will be an extremely well-qualified, mainstream justice. Given her commitment to the rule of law, along with her wide range of work in academia, the federal judiciary, and the White House, I believe she will make an excellent addition to the United States Supreme Court.
Again, thank you for contacting my office. It is truly an honor to represent North Carolina in the United States Senate, and I hope you will not hesitate to contact me in the future should you have any further questions or concerns.
Kay R. Hagan
Please do not reply to this email. Instead, if you have further questions, please visit www.hagan.senate.gov and fill out my web form for your inquiry. Thank you.


  1. That's simply NOT TRUE. My wife sent Senator Burr a letter complaining about the Senate's inaction on financial industry oversight. She heard back 5 months later. And the letter she got was nothing but Republican talking points. The worst part though was that they butchered the spelling of her name.

    Here's the deal - our country is really screwed up right now. Americans are just starting to wake up and complain, loudly, and often. I don't blame Senator Burr for taking 5 months to respond. I imagine his office is snowed under from all the bitching and complaining. Senator Hagan too.

    I have a more important question for you though. With all the crap going wrong in America today, why would you get so worked up over a Supreme Court Appointment? Relative to jobs, the economy, our deficits, our nation being screwed by its bankers ... the make up of the Supreme Court is background noise. If you're going to complain, my gosh, make it about something that counts!

  2. @J Willis: Why get worked up over a Supreme Court appointment?

    The reason to get "worked up" over a Supreme Court appointment is simple. The Justices on the Supreme Court, through their decisions, have affected virtually all aspects of life in America. With a Court that is divided 5 to 4, one new Justice can change the whole complexion of the law for generations to come.

    Without Justice Souter being replaced by Justice Alito, the Second Amendment would not be an individual right in fact and law. We would have lost the Heller decision and would never have even had a McDonald decision.

    If you don't think the Supreme Court impacts every aspect of American life, let me give you some examples.

    Until Brown v. Board of Education, separate but equal was still legal.

    Until Heart of Atlanta v. United States, blacks could be denied service in a restaurant or hotel.

    Until Griswold v. Connecticut, you could be prosecuted for using birth control.

    Until Roe v. Wade, abortion was generally outlawed.

    Until Gray v. Sanders, one man, one vote was not the law of the land.

    Until Lawrence v. Texas, gays (and straights as well) could be prosecuted for engaging in consensual sex acts.

    Need I go on?

    Justice Kagan is 50 years old and has a lifetime appointment. Justice John Paul Stevens whom she replaced retired at age 90. She may very well be on the Court for the next 20, 30, or even 40 years.

    THAT is why it is important.

    Any elected official who doesn't respond to a constituent's concerns within a reasonable period of time is treating him or her with disrespect.

    The late Senator Jesse Helms, love him or hate him, was well known for responding to constituent concerns very quickly. Liddy Dole, who was defeated by Kay Hagan, did a decent job at responding to my letters, calls, or emails. Even the philandering John Edwards wasn't too slow in his response.

    With modern computers and software, not to mention their franking privilege, there simply is no excuse. The form letter with canned talking points is better than waiting months and months for any response. It is a matter of simple courtesy and respect for the people of their state or district as well as an acknowledgment of their concerns.

  3. At least you get a reply...I think I've been put on my Congress Critter's do not reply to list.

  4. @FightinBluHen51: I understand! I was beginning to think I had been put on some sort of "enemies list" by Hagan's office which started from the day she was elected.

  5. After several letters I've never gotten jack back from Hagan. Price is just as bad. Even if it is a form letter Burr does respond.