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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Will Anyone Ask Kagan What The Meaning of "Is" Is?

There is a question no one has asked so far. What did Elena Kagan mean when she wrote, in a prior confirmation hearing when she was nominated for Solicitor General:
"There is no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage."
This statement, which seems pretty clear to me on its face, kicked off criticism of me from Ann Althouse, Ed Whelan, Allahpundit, and others, that I was being naive, and Kagan was just playing word games. The argument went that Kagan was merely summarizing the current lack of a ruling by the Supreme Court on the issue, and that "is" referred to the past and possibly the present, but not the future.

We are entitled to know if Kagan meant what she said, and said what she meant. Or if not, what did she mean?

The issue is not strictly gay marriage. Before any vote is taken, we are entitled to know if we have a nominee who so carefully parses words that "is" doesn't mean "is," it means "was."

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  1. Do you TRULY believe that she will speak truthfully in the confirmation hearings or that ANYTHING she says at those hearings reflects her intentions once she is sitting on the Supreme Court?

  2. That seems to be the crux of everything: does this nominee believe that the US Constitution is to be strictly interpreted, or does she believe (as she is on record stating) that the US Constitution is a "living, breathing document" that changes with every reading? That would allow the meaning of "is" to be elastic, would it not? Just as you say: is means "is" right now, but "is" means was later. That, to me, is the crucial question that must be answered as to whether she should be confirmed. So, who will ask the question? Sessions? Anyone? Beuller? ... Beuller?

  3. What does it matter what she says?
    We should assume that, like Sotomayor on Heller, she is lying.

  4. "The issue is not strictly homosexual marriage...."

    Fixed that for ya.