The Senate on Thursday confirmed Elena Kagan to serve on the Supreme Court, becoming the youngest of the court’s nine justices and just the fourth woman in history to receive the lifetime appointment.
After three days of debate, the Senate on Thursday voted 63-37 to approve Ms. Kagan’s nomination. Five Republicans supported her 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.
Only one Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, voted no.
“Because of her intellect, integrity, her reason, restraint and respect for the rule of law, her unimpeachable character and unwavering fidelity to our Constitution, I’m proud to cast my vote for Elena Kagen,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat.
Opponents criticized Ms. Kagan for her lack of judicial experience and portrayed her as a liberal ideologue who would steer the court to the far left.
But her supporters dismissed those concerns, saying that the former Harvard Law School dean holds mainstream legal views who will serve as an impartial judge.
Ms. Kagan, 50, will succeed the retired Justice John Paul Stevens, who left the court this after 35 years. She is President Obama’s second Supreme Court nominee after Sonia M. Sotomayor, who was confirmed last year.
Ms. Kagan currently serves as the U.S. solicitor general, the federal government’s top litigator before the Supreme Court and the first woman to hold the post. She also served as a legal advisor in the Clinton administration.
Many Republicans accused Ms. Kagan of holding weak views of the Second Amendment’s rights to bear arms.
“As a top aide to President Clinton, she was closely involved in efforts to restrict private gun ownership,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Republicans also hammered Ms. Kagan for limiting campus access to military recruiters while at Harvard over the Pentagon’s policy against allowing gays to serve openly in the military.
Ms. Kagan has countered that her handling of military recruiters at Havard was based on the school’s anti-descrimation policy, not her personal believes.
But Ms. Kagan, whose wit, modesty and legal expertise has drawn praise from even opponents, was never in much doubt of failing to be confirmed.
“With Elena Kagan’s confirmation, the Supreme Court will better reflect the diversity that has made our country great,” said Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont.