And it wasn’t a total shocker that the 13-6 tally included a yes vote by a lone Republican - Sen. Lindsey Graham, who on occasion has reached across the partisan aisle to work with the majority.
But what wasn’t expected was the South Carolina lawmaker’s unusually blunt explanation for his vote, saying he was obligated to support a “qualified” Obama administration nominee because “the last election had consequences.”
“I could give a hundred reasons why I could vote no if I based my vote on how she disagrees with me,” said Mr. Graham prior to the SenateJudiciary Committee’s vote to approve Ms. Kagan’s nomination, which was then sent to the full Senate for a final vote.
“I’m going to vote for her, and that doesn’t mean I’m pro-choice. I’m very pro-life,” Mr. Graham said. “I’m going to vote for her because I believe the last election had consequences.
“And this president chose someone who is qualified, who has the experience and knowledge to serve on this court, who’s in the mainstream of liberal philosophy and understands the difference between being a liberal judge and a politician.”
Mr. Graham added that it was his constitutional duty to put partisan politics aside and vote his conscience.
“The Constitution in my view puts a requirement on me as a senator to not replace my judgment for [the president’s], not to think of the hundred reasons I would pick somebody differently or pick a fight with Ms. Kagan,” he said. “It puts upon me a standard that’s stood the test of time. Is the person qualified? Is it a person of good character? Are they someone that understands the difference between being a judge and a politician?
“And, quite frankly, I think she’s passed all those tests.”
The senator’s vote angered conservatives nationwide - particularly anti-abortion rights groups who strongly oppose Ms. Kagan. She served as an adviser in the Clinton administration during its efforts to scale back a Republican proposal to ban so-called “partial-birth” abortions.
“We’re incredibly disappointed with Lindsey Graham,” Marilyn Musgrave of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List’s Votes Have Consequences project. “We were hoping that he would step up to the plate. Given Elena Kagan’s position on partial-birth abortion, this is absolutely amazing.”
Ms. Musgrave added that the senator’s explanation for voting yes was “very bewildering.”
“If you’re just going to automatically approve anyone that the president nominates, my goodness,” she said.
The senator’s views also were not the consensus of his party colleagues. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the committee’s ranking Republican, said he worries that Ms. Kagan would be swayed by her liberal views while making judgments on the nation's highest court.View Entire Story
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Sean Lengell covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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