Durbin and Kagan meeting in Durbin's Senate office (photo by Lynn Sweet)
Audio of Durbin's press conference with reporters after his meeting with Kagan.
WASHINGTON--Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, a former University of Chicago Law School professor, paid courtesy calls to eight senators over seven hours on Wednesday. At her stop with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) they talked about serious legal matters--and her Chicago top restaurant picks.
"Medici pizza was one of her favorites; she liked Chicago hot dogs and she enjoyed watching baseball in Wrigley Field," Durbin said after spending about 20 minutes with Kagan.
The Medici on 57th at 1327 E. 57th St., is a well known Hyde Park eatery; Durbin said she also dined at Ann Sathers, famous for cinnamon buns, though did not say if she went to the Sathers on Belmont near the "L" or on Broadway. Before moving on to Harvard Law School, where she eventually became dean, Kagan was in Chicago from 1991 through 1995, living in Lincoln Park.
A point of these Senate visits is to build a rapport with Senators through some small talk; she chatted about the Cubs a bit with Durbin and other teams too, in a very cautious way. Kagan, raised on Manhattan's Upper West Side, told Durbin "she originally was a Mets fan, and then became partial to the Red Sox when she was up in Boston but she thinks there is some balance there," what with one team each from the National League and American League.
One more substantive notes, Kagan emerged from the day with senators bringing up issues that will likely confront her during her confirmation hearings, due to begin this summer, two stemming from her time at Harvard.
Kagan spent the most time--more than 45 minutes- with Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) who talked to her about briefly banning military recruiters from Harvard Law School
Some civil rights groups are concerned over her record for hiring minorities while at Harvard.
"That's going to be a legitimate question at the hearing and it will be asked at the hearing," Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said.
Durbin said he asked her about an article she wrote while at the U. of C. where she was critical of Supreme Court nominees for ducking answers during confirmation hearings. He said she set a high bar for candor he dubbed "the Kagan standard."
This came up during Kagan's confirmation hearings last year for Solicitor General. Durbin said Kagan said she now realizes "The world looks a little different from this vantage point." He predicted, "I think she will be as candid as she can be."