- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 1, 2010

The National Rifle Association on Thursday announced it will oppose the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, telling senators their votes could affect whether the powerful gun rights’ lobby endorses them for re-election.

The public statement follows a week of private grumbling among some conservatives and Republican lawmakers that the NRA was staying on the sidelines in the battle over President Obama’s second Supreme Court pick.

In three days of testimony and questioning before the SenateJudiciary Committee this week, Ms. Kagan “refused to acknowledge respect for the God-given right of self-defense,” NRA top officials Chris Cox and Wayne LaPierre said in a statement. “She should not serve on any court, let alone be confirmed to a lifetime seat on the highest court in the land.”

Earlier in the week, the gun rights group said it was concerned about some of Ms. Kagan’s views on Second Amendment issues, but planned to wait until her Senate testimony concluded before taking a position. The group took a similar approach during last year’s confirmation hearing for Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

The White House in a statement defended Ms. Kagan’s stance on gun ownership issues, which have become a legal battleground following two major Supreme Court decisions expanding the Second Amendment’s guarantee of the right of individuals to own firearms.

Ms. Kagan, 50, a former dean of Harvard Law School, told the Senate panel that the Supreme Court gun decisions, both approved on 5-4 votes, were now settled precedent.

“I have absolutely no reason to think that the court’s analysis was incorrect in any way. I accept the court’s analysis and will apply it going forward,” she said.

Still, the NRA’s opposition could cut into the size of Ms. Kagan’s support when the full Senate votes, making it marginally harder for lawmakers from rural and conservative states to back her.

Despite the announcement, the Obama White House is increasingly confident the president’s second Supreme Court pick will eventually be confirmed. Even a number of Republicans senators said this week’s hearings had done nothing to torpedo her chances.

The Democratic National Committee Thursday was even touting Ms. Kagan’s likely confirmation as part of an e-mail fundraising appeal to supporters. A picture of the nominee was prominently featured in the appeal.

“The Democratic Party is pushing back to ensure that this incredible woman gets a fair hearing, but we must also show that public support for Kagan is overwhelming,” wrote Donna Brazile, one of Democrats’ top voter registration officials.

The SenateJudiciary Committee held a late afternoon hearing Thursday for outside groups to comment on the nomination. The American Bar Association, which was among the groups invited to testify, last week gave Ms. Kagan its highest rating of “well qualified” for the Supreme Court.

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