How many of her own political and legal views will Elena Kagan reveal during her appearance before the Senate? We may not yet know, but on this issue there is a paper trail. Here is Kagan, writing in the University of Chicago Law Review back in 1995:
The Senate's consideration of a nominee, and particularly the Senate's confirmation hearings, ought to focus on substantive issues; the Senate ought to view the hearings as an opportunity to gain knowledge and promote public understanding of what the nominee believes the Court should do and how she would affect its conduct. Like other kinds of legislative fact-finding, this inquiry serves both to educate members of the Senate and public and to enhance their ability to make rea- soned choices. Open exploration of the nominee's substantive views, that is, enables senators and their constitutuents to engage in a focused discussion of constitutional values, to ascertain the values held by the nominee, and to evaluate whether the nominee possesses the values that the Supreme Court most urgently requires. These are the issues of greatest consequence surrounding any Supreme Court nomination (not the objective qualifications or personal morality of the nominee); and the process used in the Senate to serve the intertwined aims of education and evaluation ought to reflect what most greatly matters.
This open exploration by Senators includes:
the insistence on seeing how theory works in practice by evoking a nominee's comments on particular issues - involving privacy rights, free speech, race and gender discrimination, and so forth - that the Court regularly faces.
These were Professor Kagan's views once upon a time; we shall see if they remain so.