Wednesday, May 19, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman moved quickly Wednesday to advance Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan down a so-far smooth road to confirmation, setting hearings for June 28.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, said the schedule should allow the hearings to be completed before senators go home for a weeklong break in early July. In announcing it, Mr. Leahy was seizing the momentum building behind Miss Kagan’s nomination just over a week after President Obama selected her to succeed retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

“I would urge everybody to come to the hearing with an open mind, listen to her answers to those questions, and we will make sure that every senator — both sides of the aisle — has ample time to ask the questions they want,” Mr. Leahy said.

The timetable mirrors the one Mr. Leahy’s panel followed with Mr. Obama’s first court choice, Justice Sonia Sotomayor. It would put the Senate on track to meet the president’s goal of installing Kagan on the court by the time its new session begins this fall.

Mr. Leahy settled on it over the objections of Republicans, who said they wanted more time to review documents from Miss Kagan’s past, particularly from her years serving in the Clinton White House.

But Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the panel’s ranking member, said his party would “try to do our best to conduct an effective hearing” in the time provided.

“We’ll discuss judicial activism, faithfulness to the Constitution, and I expect it to be a vigorous and important hearing,” Mr. Sessions said.

Democrats have more than enough votes to confirm Miss Kagan. Republicans have so far shown little inclination to block the move.

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