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Kagan: How did the first day play?

The Washington Post on yesterday's Senate hearing to consider Elena Kagan's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. “Speaking in slow and deliberate tones, Kagan told the committee that her experience as a legislative aide, a White House adviser and most recently solicitor general had underscored for her the importance of a judicial branch that knows its bounds. ‘The Supreme Court is a wondrous institution. But the time I spent in the other branches of government remind me that it must also be a modest one -- properly deferential to the decisions of the American people and their elected representatives,’ Kagan said.”

“Her use of the term ‘modest’ offered the first clue to Ms. Kagan’s judicial philosophy in her own words,” the New York Times adds. “The question of just what Ms. Kagan means by it — and just what, precisely, her judicial philosophy is — will be a core theme of the hearings when senators begin questioning her on Tuesday.”

Here’s how one of us described Kagan’s opening remarks. “She didn't offer a memorable line like John Roberts' "balls and strikes" metaphor. She didn't have a devoted spouse looking on like Samuel Alito did. And she didn't have a proud parent sitting behind her, a la Sonia Sotomayor. Nevertheless, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan delivered quite a performance in her opening remarks before the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

“[Monday], of course, was the easy part of Kagan's testimony, and she didn't refer to any of the GOP critiques of her nomination (lack of judicial experience, the military recruiters at Harvard, that she was a political operative/adviser for Bill Clinton). [Tuesday] and Wednesday bring us the Q&A, where we'll find out the answers to those questions.”

Here’s MSNBC.com’s Carrie Dann’s live-blogging wrap of Day 1.



The AP: "A Supreme Court nomination hearing is not the place for a would-be justice to display a sharp tongue or a biting wit. Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan has both, and some of her snarkiness over the years has been directed at the same senators who will be grilling her for a position on the nation's highest court. Kagan will be off-script Tuesday on the second day of her confirmation hearings and will probably keep a more civil tongue. But she will probably hear some of her own words thrown back at her."

Roll Call: "Senate Republicans wasted no time Monday launching a broad offensive against Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, raising questions about the veracity of her testimony at her confirmation hearings before she even spoke a single word. For weeks Republicans have made it clear that they intended to use the hearings to attack Kagan on a range of contentious policy issues. But as the Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing began Monday, GOP Senators unveiled a new line of attack, arguing that Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent in a recent gun rights case proves that Kagan’s statements to the committee, no matter how explicit, may not be trustworthy."

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank says GOP senators seemed to spend more time attacking the late Thurgood Marshall than Kagan. “It was, to say the least, a curious strategy to go after Marshall, the iconic civil rights lawyer who successfully argued Brown vs. Board of Education. Did Republicans think it would help their cause to criticize the first African American on the Supreme Court, a revered figure who has been celebrated with an airport, a postage stamp and a Broadway show?”

"Kagan, the current solicitor general, clerked for Marshall in the 1980s and has listed the civil rights icon as one of her judicial heroes. Judiciary Committee Republicans, including ranking member Jeff Sessions (Ala.) and Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), attacked Marshall as an out-of-the-mainstream liberal during their opening remarks Monday," Roll Call adds.