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Kagan Set for the Playoffs – How Will the Rookie Do?

By August 19, 2010Legal
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Most baseball enthusiasts are looking forward to the start of the post-season this October. For those of us who love the game, there is nothing like it. The stakes are high, the intensity mounts, and the pressure to perform usually separates the super stars from the average.

Rookies especially struggle under such conditions. It usually takes them some years to gain the experience necessary to thrive under that type of pressure.

But rookies in Major League Baseball at least play a whole season (162 games), with some type of success because they are in the playoffs, before stepping into that situation. This October, rookie Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan will step into “post-season baseball” without having even played Little League.

When Justice Kagan takes her seat on the bench for the Court’s first oral arguments on October 4, it will be the first time she hears arguments as a judge, and even her experience in presenting arguments before the Court (any court) is very limited.

Couple that with Justice Kagan’s record as a liberal political activist, and there is reason for great concern.

The stakes at the United States Supreme Court are much higher than a few disgruntled fans and a smaller paycheck. Justice Kagan’s lifetime appointment leaves room for very little accountability, yet she will be handling some of the most important issues of our time, affecting the liberties of every American.

Just three days into her first Supreme Court session, Kagan will be hearing arguments in Snyder v. Phelps. That is the case where the Fourth Circuit reversed a jury determination in favor of Albert Snyder who sought to honor and mourn his son who died defending our nation. At his funeral, the hateful Fred Phelps and his Westboro “Baptist Church” protested the burial because of what they perceive to be an increased acceptance of homosexuality in the military.

Arizona Christian School Tuition v. Winn and its companion case are also set to come before the Court. In that case, Justice Kagan must review an Arizona program that provides dollar-for-dollar tax credits for donations to school tuition organizations. Believe it or not, some citizens object because taxpayers choose to direct more contributions to religious organizations than to nonreligious ones.

In Schwarzenegger v. EMA, Kagan must decide whether a California law prohibiting sales of violent video games to minors is an unconstitutional infringement on freedom of speech. These are just a few of the cases Justice Kagan is set to decide for the entire nation in her first job as a judge.

But that is just the beginning. We all know the recently decided “gay marriage” case in California is on the fast-track to the Supreme Court. Others, like the many lawsuits against the federal government’s health care law, will most likely make their way to her desk at some point or another.

We know how political activist Kagan would handle such cases. But would it be any different for Justice Kagan? We fear that it will not.

Still, don’t hold your breath, but Justice Kagan has a great opportunity to set aside the old political games of the past and embark on a new journey of judicial restraint, respect for the law, and impartiality. A humble and honest approach to the advice of other members of the Court would go a long way to help her in that regard.

Major League managers always look for those veteran players that can help the rookies on their road to maturity. Their contribution can be invaluable. In the same way, Justice Kagan could benefit immensely from the advice of Justice Antonin Scalia – the longest serving member in the court – on his approach to the law in general and constitutional interpretation specifically.

But if Justice Kagan decides to follow in Justice Sotomayor’s footsteps and fall right in line with the liberal ranks of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to help promote the “living, breathing” Constitution, her credibility will be diminished, and she will become just the latest example of the deep discontent and disconnect between everyday Americans and the liberal elite.

Let’s “play ball.”