Kagan's Wit Helps Her Court Favor In between arguing about the commerce clause and explaining the meaning of interlocutory appeal, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan delivered some very funny lines over 17 hours in a Senate hearing room.

Kagan's Wit Helps Her Court Favor

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During her confirmation hearing at the Senate, in between arguing about the commerce clause and explaining the meaning of the interlocutory appeal, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan delivered some very funny lines.

NPR's Carrie Johnson reports that Kagan put on a charm offensive along with her interview suit.

CARRIE JOHNSON: Perhaps the best moment of Elena Kagan's testimony came at the friendly hands of South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham. When Senator Graham started to ask Kagan about a failed al-Qaida bomb plot on Christmas Day, it was not at all clear where he was heading.

Senator LINDSEY GRAHAM (Republican, South Carolina): I just asked you where you were at on Christmas.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. ELENA KAGAN (Nominee, Supreme Court): You know, like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant.

(Soundbite of laughter and applause)

Sen. GRAHAM: Great answer.

JOHNSON: Kagan also shared a bit of on-stage intimacy with California Democrat Dianne Feinstein.

Senator DIANNE FEINSTEIN (Democrat, California): Now, I want to just have a little heart-to-heart talk with you, if I might. I come at the subject...

Ms. KAGAN: Just you and me?

Sen. FEINSTEIN: Just you and me and nobody else.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Senator PATRICK LEAHY (Chairman, Judiciary Committee): Don't anybody in the room listen.

(Soundbite of laughter)

JOHNSON: That Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, putting in the last word.

New York's Charles Schumer pointed out that Democrats want Kagan to be a counterweight to decades of conservative hegemony when it comes to courtroom humor. Here's Schumer.

Senator CHARLES SCHUMER (Democrat, New York): There was a recent study I read that showed when he sits on the Supreme Court bench hearing cases, Justice Scalia gets the most laughs.

Ms. KAGAN: He is a funny man.

Sen. SCHUMER: Yeah. If you get there, and I believe you will, you're going to give him a run for his money.

JOHNSON: And there was this moment that rendered Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania momentarily speechless. Specter complained about how Supreme Court nominees never say anything meaningful until after they're confirmed.

Senator ARLEN SPECTER (Democrat, Pennsylvania): And remind them that they all appeared on television this year on C-Span, and that many of them have appeared over the years selling books and being in a variety of situations.

Ms. KAGAN: It means I'd have to get my hair done more often, Senator Specter.

(Soundbite of laughter)


(Soundbite of laughter)

Sen. SPECTER: Let me commend you on...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Sen. SPECTER: Let me commend you on that last comment.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Sen. SPECTER: And I say that seriously. You have shown a really admirable sense of humor and I think that is really important.

JOHNSON: Kagan, who's affectionately called Lady Kaga by legal blogs, got more comfortable as the hours ticked by. She even got, well, a bit cheeky with Chairman Leahy.

Senator LEAHY: Did you want to take a break before we go to some of the others or...

Ms. KAGAN: Some of the others?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. KAGAN: If it's some of the others, I definitely want to take a break.

JOHNSON: But Kagan seemed to come away with a positive impression.

Ms. KAGAN: I hope you found it informative. I found it somewhat wearying but actually a great moment in my life.

JOHNSON: She'll find out how great in a few weeks when the Senate votes on her nomination.

Carrie Johnson, NPR News, Washington.

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