Republicans on the panel expressed some frustration that the nominee refused to offer more insights about her own opinions on a number of major issues. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the committee’s top Republican, accused her of not being forthcoming in her answers.
“Critics who are saying, ‘Who is this nominee? Exactly what do you believe?’ might find it from the testimony difficult to know if, Ms. Kagan, you’d be more like John Roberts or more like [Justice] Ruth Bader Ginsburg?” he said.
During a break in the hearing, several Republicans told reporters that they thought Ms. Kagan was deliberately sidestepping questions.
“I think she’s been very adept at avoiding very specific questions that could result in criticism of her point of view,” said Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican. “That doesn’t help her confirmation, in my view.”
Their criticism was echoed by at least one frustrated Democrat, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who hinted he might even consider opposing the nominee if she was not more open on specific issues.
“It would be my hope that we could find someplace between voting ‘no’ and having some sort of substantive answers,” he said.
But Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, when asked whether he thought Ms. Kagan would be confirmed, said; “I assume she will be.”
Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, agreed, saying during a break that “Solicitor General Kagan will be confirmed.”
The Judiciary Committee hopes to vote on her nomination in July, with a full Senate vote before Congress leaves for its August break. If confirmed, she would replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, who was nominated by Republican President Gerald Ford.