Why is Al Franken on Judiciary?

Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., listens on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 28, 2010, during the committee's confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. AP

AP
Ok, now it's just sad. Sen. Al Franken actually was onto a significant question: Should the Court ever use legislative history in interpreting federal laws (except he used Justice Kennedy as its main opponent, which the Real Enemy of legislative history is Scalia). This is a big issue! It divides liberals and conservatives!

Kagan started to answer: When the text is clear, you look to the text, but...

And Franken cuts her off. Not once but twice.

But....But what? What's her answer? Does he even know what he's asking?

But wait...Kagan IS engaged. She blows off Franken's next question, to return to the IMPORTANT ONE, after asking permission to go back and answer. Franken graciously agrees.

"The job of the court is to use whatever evidence of hand," Kagan said. Courts "look at structure of statute, the title of the statute, when the statute was enacted and by looking at legislative history.

"Courts have to be careful in looking at legislative history and make sure it's reliable," she said. "But courts should not exclude signs of congressional intent....when the text of the statute is unclear."

So this is progress. Kagan is answering a question--on an issue that divides the justices--even when the Senator who asked it apparently does even care to hear it.

More from Jan Crawford:

Low Temps on Day Two of Kagan's Grilling
Watching Kagan: Reality Check
Kagan on Military Recruiting: Reality Check
Kagan Supports Cameras in Supreme Court

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Washington Unplugged: How Did Kagan Do?
Pictures from the Conifirmation Hearing
CBSNews.com Special Report: Elena Kagan

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    Jan Crawford is CBS News Chief Political and Legal Correspondent. She is from "Crossroads," Alabama.

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