Add this to the spectator sports going on right now in exciting arenas….World Cup. Wimbledon. Prelude to the Tour de France. Buildup to the MLB All-Star Break. US Open to the British Open.

And now, finally, the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan begin. Okay, most people don’t care. But we journalists must, and must understand the players and the stakes.

And that’s the key point of interest here, given that Kagan’s confirmation is a certainty.

For Congress, it’s an election year, and the hearing provides Democrats and Republicans a platform to make their respective campaign arguments.

But what’s more important is that they make their respective cases before the American people about their view of the Constitution and its interpretation. Asking the right questions is critical. And it’s not ‘will the Republicans resort to the filibuster?’

A better question would have been, “Would it be politically smart for Republicans to use the confirmation process for Elena Kagan to highlight differences between the parties on the proper role of the Supreme Court?”  I’d submit that the Sotomayor confirmation process demonstrates that the right answer to that question is a resounding “yes.”

Because the mid-term elections are right around the corner.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....