Tales from the Trail

Al Franken’s moment of backsliding…

It was one of those moments Al Franken seems to work hard to suppress.

The comedian-turned-politician has kept a mostly straight face through his first year as a senator — listening seriously to hours of committee testimony and posing pointed questions with only the flicker of a smile crossing his face.
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Thursday’s Senate debate over Elena Kagan was evidently too much for the clown in him to bear.

As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell argued that Kagan was too inexperienced and political to be confirmed as a justice of the Supreme Court, Franken couldn’t contain himself.

The liberal Democrat from Minnesota, who was presiding over the Senate at the time, rolled his eyes, let out his breath and finally began to shake his head, a Senate Republican aide said.

He swiveled his head from side to side, threw his head back and showed other signs displeasure during McConnell’s 10-minute speech, the aide said.

McConnell was distracted enough by Franken’s behavior that he approached the Senate dais afterward to complain to him privately.

In Brown vs. Kagan, the decision is in…

Just because he introduces you to his colleagues, doesn’t mean he’ll vote for you.

That’s what U.S. Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan found out on Thursday about Senator Scott Brown.

Usually there wouldn’t have been great expectations for a Republican senator to vote for a Democratic president’s nominee, but in the case of Brown vs. Kagan the outcome was a question mark.

‘Twilight’ falls at Kagan hearing

There is no escaping the “Twilight” juggernaut. Not even on Capitol Hill.

The teen vampire romance saga that’s captivated a gazillion youthful fans managed to seep into Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearing Wednesday, thanks to a probing question from Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Before inquiring about Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, Briscoe v. Virginia and other cases that have come before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Minnesota Democrat raised the burning question in the great “Twilight” debate: Edward or Jacob?  Kagan declined to weigh in on the topic. The senator quickly moved on.

Humor in the hearing room

kaganOn day-two of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearing, she didn’t reveal much about her specific views on a wide range of issues over nine hours.

But now we know the U.S. Solicitor General can be funny. Very funny.

Kagan repeatedly disarmed lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary panel with a quick sense of humor.

Kagan, who as U.S.  Solicitor General currently represents the government in cases before the Supreme Court, refused to take the bait when Arizona Republican Jon Kyl asked if she agreed with complaints that the court had favored corporate interests in recent rulings.

To reach Supreme Court, first court the senators

Elena Kagan is making the rounds.

To get a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, a nominee must first wear out a lot of shoe leather on Capitol Hill. And smile, smile, smile.

USA/So that’s precisely what President Barack Obama’s choice for the high court has been doing this week. While Kagan is considered likely to get Senate confirmation, nothing is ever guaranteed in this process – remember President George W. Bush’s nominee Harriet Miers?

The other hard-and-fast rule of these Hill chats is that afterward the senators talk, the Supreme Court nominee doesn’t.

Obama picks “Shorty” for Supreme Court

Elena Kagan rose to the occasion — literally — stepping up onto a riser behind the podium so she would be closer to eye level with the President and Vice President of the United States on either side of her.

President Barack Obama, looking quite pleased with himself, introduced her as his choice for the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy opened by the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens.  USA-COURT/

“She has often referred to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, for whom she clerked, as her hero,” Obama said. “I understand that he reciprocated by calling her ‘Shorty’.”

Traders put their money on Kagan to be Supreme Court pick

Traders are betting that there is a 75 percent chance that President Barack Obama will decide on U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court and that she would be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

That’s up 15 points from yesterday, according to the online market Intrade, which means that Kagan is by far the odds-on favorite to be the next Supreme Court justice.

USAObama is expected to announce soon, probably early next week, his selection for the Supreme Court vacancy that will be created by the retirement of liberal Justice John Paul Stevens at the end of the term in June. The president wants whomever he picks confirmed by the Senate before the high court reconvenes in October after its summer break.