- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The full Senate opened debate Tuesday on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan by rehashing old squabbles over her qualifications, none of which are expected to keep her from becoming the fourth woman in history to serve on the nation’s highest court.

Republican opponents portrayed the former Harvard Law School dean as a liberal ideologue who hates guns and the military, lacks judicial experience and would steer the nation’s highest court far to the left.

Supporters, mostly Democrats and independents, countered that Ms. Kagan opponents are unduly paranoid, saying that the Obama nominee holds mainstream views and is an exceptional legal scholar who has the uppermost respect of her peers.

“She made clear she’ll base her approach on deciding cases on the law and the Constitution, not on politics, and not on an ideological agenda,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat.

Senators, barring any unforeseen turns, are expected to confirm Ms. Kagan before leaving at the end of the week for their August break.

Ms. Kagan, 50, is the first woman to hold the post of U.S. solicitor general, the federal government’s top litigator before the Supreme Court. She also was the first woman to serve as dean of the Harvard Law School, and she served as an adviser in the Clinton administration.

As of Tuesday, at least five Republicans said they will support Ms. Kagan’s Supreme Court bid: Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine.

Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska so far is the only Democrat to say he will vote against the nominee, although he said he will join Democrats in voting to limit any Republican filibuster of her nomination.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, said that Ms. Kagan “does not have the gifts and qualities of mind or temperament” to sit on the Supreme Court.

“Yes, she is young, but her philosophy is not; it is old, bankrupt judicial activism - a philosophy the American people correctly reject,” said Mr. Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Democrat, accused Ms. Kagan of evading questions while testifying last month before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which approved her nomination 13-6.

“I thought she was disingenuous,” Mr. Kyl said.

“I am also concerned about her leftist ideology and the potential it will influence her judging,” he said.

But Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, said Ms. Kagan’s professional background makes her “superbly qualified to sit on the Supreme Court, not just qualified.”

“A nominee must also show that he or she has the appropriate judicial temperament, has a commitment to follow the law and brings a judicial philosophy that will not pull the court outside of the mainstream, and I have confidence in her in each of these areas,” Mrs. Feinstein said.

Mr. Graham, the South Carolina Republican, said he thinks Ms. Kagan will be a valued member of the Supreme Court.

“I am going to vote for Elena Kagan because I believe constitutionally she meets the test that the framers [of the Constitution] envisioned for someone to serve on the court,” he said.

Ms. Kagan, if confirmed, would replace the retiring liberal Justice John Paul Stevens. She is Mr. Obama’s second pick for the nation’s highest court after Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who the Senate confirmed last year by a vote of 68-31, including the support of nine Republicans.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide