Divisions on display as Kagan confirmation hearings begin

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Many Republican and Democratic lawmakers opened their statements at Monday’s hearing by noting the passing earlier that morning of Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, after more than a half-century of service in the Senate.

“All of us are saddened by his death,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat. He called Mr. Byrd the chamber’s “fiercest defender of the Senate’s constitutional role and prerogatives.”

David R. Sands contributed to this report.

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