Senators Trash Thurgood Marshall on Elena Kagan's First Day

You all see that Elena Kagan hearing yesterday? Too exciting, what with each senator giving a vapid, grandstanding speech, one after another, all day. And the Republican attack line was crisp: exploit her connection to history's greatest monster, Thurgood Marshall.

Elena Kagan used to clerk for Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court justice in history and a hallowed figure everywhere and to everyone. When Kagan's nomination was announced, RNC chairman and permanently stocked comedy arsenal Michael Steele went on to attack Kagan for this illicit "connection" of Kagan's, noting that he had once called the original Constitution, as written, "defective," and she had agreed. Yes, the Constitution — our Consitution! America's Document.

People eventually pointed out to Steele that Justice Marshall was explicitly referring to its protection of slavery and racial and gender discrimination as the "defective" parts, and he backtracked. At yesterday's opening hearing, however, as Dana Milbank writes in the Washington Post, the theme went back to "Crush Thurgood Marshall."

"Justice Marshall's judicial philosophy," said Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, "is not what I would consider to be mainstream." Kyl — the lone member of the panel in shirtsleeves for the big event — was ready for a scrap. Marshall "might be the epitome of a results-oriented judge," he said. [...]

Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the panel, branded Marshall a "well-known activist." Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Marshall's legal view "does not comport with the proper role of a judge or judicial method." Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) pronounced Marshall "a judicial activist" with a "judicial philosophy that concerns me."

As the Republicans marshaled their anti-Marshall forces, staffers circulated to reporters details of the late justice's offenses: "Justice Marshall endorsed 'judicial activism,' supported abortion rights, and believed the death penalty was unconstitutional."

Yeah she'll get confirmed.

Meanwhile, the single best line of the day, hands down, went to Republican Sen. John Cornyn: "Liberty is not a cruise ship full of pampered passengers. Liberty is a man of war, and we're all the crew."

Apparently this quote comes from a creepy secessionist/survivalist author who writes novels about people from Wyoming trying to steal nuclear weapons to guarantee their state's independence.

Thurgood Marshall probably loved cruise ships.

[Image via AP]