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The people have spoken. So what?

The people -- or at least the people surveyed by USA Today -- don't like Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. Only 46% of respondents said yes when asked if they would like to see the Senate vote for her confirmation.

By comparison, USA today notes:

Chief Justice John Roberts was viewed positively by 60% by the time he was confirmed in 2005, Clarence Thomas by 58% in 1991, Sonia Sotomayor by 55% when she was confirmed last year. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was favored by 53% in 1993 and Samuel Alito by 54% in 2006.

Which proves -- what?

First, there's an apples-and-oranges problem with the comparisons. Kagan hasn't testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee yet, let alone had her nomination voted on by the full Senate.

Second, why should we care? Polls about citizens' preferences in political candidates matter because they vote in elections. There is no popular vote on Supreme Court nominees. Rarely -- the Robert Bork nomination comes to mind -- public opinion about a Supreme Court nomination weighs heavily with senators. That isn't the case with Kagan.

The rap against Kagan is that we don't know enough about her views, because she hasn't been a judge and has a scanty record of academic publications. So what does the public know that senators don't?

My own view is that polls not measuring how people may vote should have two stages. First, a respondent should be asked a few factual questions about the subject matter. (I'm not talking about softballs like: "Have you heard that President Obama nominated Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.")  Only if he or she gets these right should the pollster go on to ask for an opinion.

-- Michael McGough



Comments () | Archives (4)

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Tauna  Loveless

I watch your shows on Monday , Tuesday, Wednesday , Thursday, and last but not least. Friday . I set one DVR for just you and channel 13 . Theni record both of u then I have another DVR to record any thing else I want I don't even really watch maybe six shows out of 10 of your shows. I think you guys should rethink what your going to do. I only do 6 from 2 channels when I get all week and can't wait till next week to find out what is going to happen. I can count on it being on every week I really like what you have now ghost whisperer and medium and also criminal minds r my favorite along with csi miami svu is good to I like the idea of la law and order please rethink what your going to do I may not watch u at all if u get rid of to much

Gregory Haralson

Gregory Haralson Recommends this article

Regan DuCasse

Vox populi can't be relied upon to be rational. In this digital age of much information and opinion sharing, most people still don't care to or can discern opinion from facts.
For example: there is much demand that the rights of gays and lesbians be a matter of popular vote, which is fueled by media spreading much fear and exploiting ignorance of that minority.
Which, as a minority, will always be at a popular vote disadvantage.
Kagan is an unmarried woman, with a higher plane of intellect and professional ambition. Something that's always been a turn off for the boy's club of Washington politics. All the more reason to support her.

Vicente Esquibel

Open letter to California legislators.

I have a solution for the economy, since, it has effected me personally. I propose that all the ignorant public servants aka legislators take a 50% cut in pay and benefits. We should make mandatory the three bid approach for every state purchase. We have a tremendous purchasing power, yet we do not obtain the lowest price offered since someone’s pocket also gets a kickback on the purchase. Where is the state auditor? I 've lost my job, lost my health benefits, lost my home, (NEED A JOB) lost my car, and seeing myself on the verge of getting evicted from my rented apartment, my wife had a bleeding lump under her breast, she also has an excruciating lower back pain, which is running down her leg and causing her the inability to walk. I have diabetes but cannot afford a quarterly blood exam, we don’t even qualify for (god forbid) medi-cal, and we both cannot afford our prescriptions or doctor’s appts. - because no one wants to hire me (I’m either overqualified for the $10 jobs, or losing out to the decent jobs to the next over qualified wave of unemployed).This should apply to the legislature, so that they can get a taste of what the economy is like. (NEED A JOB)
I sent this to both speaker of the house-returned with an incorrect mail .. Governor's office website doesn't even come up. What - are they ignoring the general public opinion - think they are to good to listen us.



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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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