Martha Minow on Justices Marshall and Kagan

From the Boston Globe:

NOW THAT the Senate has confirmed Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, there will be post-mortems about the confirmation process. Many members of the Judiciary Committee criticized Kagan for her admiration of Justice Thurgood Marshall, for whom she clerked. I also clerked for Marshall, and found that these criticisms revealed not only a lack of knowledge of Marshall’s precise adherence to rules and precedent but also a failure to appreciate the significance of his contributions to American law. Kagan’s confirmation is not only a victory for her, but also a confirmation of Marshall’s enduring legacy.

In the confirmation process, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama questioned Marshall’s concern for “the little guy.’’ Senator John Cornyn of Texas labeled him “a judicial activist.’’ Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa announced that Marshall’s legal views “do not comport with the proper role of a judge or judicial method.’’

They seemed determined to find some way to paint then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan as someone other than the accomplished and mainstream lawyer that she is. As Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank put it, “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? The guy is a saint . . . added to the Episcopal Church’s list of ‘Holy Women and Holy Men,’ which the Episcopal Diocese of New York says ‘is akin to being granted sainthood.’ ’’

For the rest, see here.