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Ben Nelson first Democrat to declare 'no' on Kagan

By Paul Kane
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) announced his opposition Friday to the Supreme Court nomination of Elena Kagan, becoming the first Democrat to declare a 'no' vote on President Obama's second nominee to the highest court in the nation.

Without specifying his objections, Nelson issued a statement late Friday afternoon saying that constituents in his conservative-leaning state do not support Kagan's confirmation. "I have heard concerns from Nebraskans regarding Ms. Kagan, and her lack of a judicial record makes it difficult for me to discount the concerns raised by Nebraskans, or to reach a level of comfort that these concerns are unfounded. Therefore, I will not vote to confirm Ms. Kagan's nomination," Nelson said.

Regularly among the most conservative Democrats, Nelson has angered his party's liberal base with many votes in his 10 years in the Senate, most recently his opposition to extending unemployment benefits unless the increased spending was offset by subsequent spending cuts. Nelson's decision will not have any impact on the nomination prospects for Kagan, who is still likely to coast to confirmation with a vote count in the low-to-mid 60s, based on a Washington Post accounting of the likely voting.

Nelson said he would not support a filibuster of Kagan, if conservative Republicans were to try such a move.

His opposition comes as another Republican stepped out in support of Kagan.

"Ms. Kagan and I may have different political philosophies, but I believe that the confirmation process should be based on qualifications, not ideological litmus tests or political affiliation. I will vote for her confirmation," Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said.

Here's is Ben Nelson's full statement:

July 30, 2010 - Today, Nebraska's Senator Ben Nelson issued this statement on the president's nomination of Elena Kagan for the U.S. Supreme Court to fill the seat of retired Justice John Paul Stevens:

"As a member of the bipartisan 'Gang of 14,' I will follow our agreement that judicial nominees should be filibustered only under extraordinary circumstances. If a cloture vote is held on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court, I am prepared to vote for cloture and oppose a filibuster because, in my view, this nominee deserves an up or down vote in the Senate.

"However, I have heard concerns from Nebraskans regarding Ms. Kagan, and her lack of a judicial record makes it difficult for me to discount the concerns raised by Nebraskans, or to reach a level of comfort that these concerns are unfounded. Therefore, I will not vote to confirm Ms. Kagan's nomination."

By Paul Kane  |  July 30, 2010; 6:10 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , The Courts  
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Comments

Why would you vote for her? She has no experience as a judge. It's pure cronism just like when Bush tried to nominate his lawyer buddy. The difference is that conservative shut him down while liberals on the other hand are nothing but mindless lapdogs.

Posted by: peterg73 | August 3, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Former Nebraska Republican senator, Chuck Hagel, was a far superiour representative in the Senate than Ben Nelson will ever be. Nelson is moving farther to the right with each passing day. He will eventually jump parties. He is of no use to the Dems and is especially no friend of the unemployed.

Posted by: Sandydayl | July 31, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

For all intents and purposes, Ben Nelson is a Republican....he and my Senator Joe Lieberman should not be allowed to caucas with the Democrats any longer...what a disgrace they both are.

Posted by: gilbertpb40 | July 31, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

We need Bob Kerrey back!!!

Posted by: smcferra | July 31, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Whatever, he knows that this vote doesn't matter and is just trying to win appeal with conservative Nebraskans.

Posted by: ozpunk | July 31, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

To those who call Nelson a Republican - are you kidding? He isn't for filibustering everything the democrats propose, and he'll negotiate on democratic legislation in good faith. That's _way_ beyond what's needed to discualify him as a Republican.

I do agree that his "guilty until proven innocent" attitude is pretty ridiculous.

Posted by: DavidSeibert | July 31, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Ben Nelson is such a good Republican. Shouldn't he be allowed to go hunting with Dick Cheney ???

Posted by: CALDEM | July 31, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Lieberman, Landrieu, Byrd, Inouye,Salazar and Prior should change parties, but keep their handlers, corporations, healthcare and fellow rat repugnicans and let their "gang of Fourteen" lose their reelections as soon as possible, please get rid of these rats!

Posted by: rosenfan1 | July 31, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

How ironic--in considering a Supreme Court justice, he considers her guilty until proven innocent.

Posted by: writinron | July 31, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Politbureau, I have heard this overgeneralized pap from you arrogant "heartland" hillbillies for years. The simple truth is that you only believe in the Constitution and government of, by and for the people as long as elections turn out in your favor. The minute someonle like Obama or any other democrat or liberal is chose by that same process, you get all erect, deceitfully trying to convince others and yourself that it is all unconstitutional simply because the election didn't turn out in your favor.

Unelected and unaccountable. Where do you get that hogwash? Glen Beck? Everyone in both parties is elected and accountable every 2, 4 or 6 years depending on their term of office. That's what the Constitution dictates. Not some hillbilly opinionator that thinks somehow if you are a northeastern liberal you should be disqualified.

Posted by: jaxas70 | July 31, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Look. My only question concerning Ben Nelson is why does he continue this charade of being a democrat. He has consistently voted with the republicans on every issue. So why does he not simply come out and call himself what he actually is: A right wing republican.

The truth is that he can only have a chance at winning in his district as long as he can convince enough low information voters in both parties that he is one of them. It is deceptive and dishonest and precisely what is wrong with our political process.

Posted by: jaxas70 | July 31, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse

It's hilarious reading the moonbats who rant that Sen. Nelson must place unquestioning partisan loyalty ahead of the wishes of the citizenry who sent him to represent THEM.

By all means, let's not let outdated ideas like democracy stand in the way of imposing moonbat ideology!

Posted by: thebump | July 31, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

concernedcitizen3, you act as though Kagan will be the first Chief Justice confirmed without substantial experience as a judge. However, almost forty past justices did not have judicial experience before they were confirmed to the court. The rest of your complaints--that she does not provide substantial answers to simple questions--could easily apply to Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito. In other words, the refusal to answer these questions is more about the highly divisive and partisan nature of the confirmation process. I agree that candidates should answer questions candidly and openly, but don't act as though Kagan is the first to refuse to do so.

Posted by: binaryboy | July 31, 2010 3:14 AM | Report abuse

The heartland of America still values the quaint notion of government of the people, by the people and for the people rather than government of the unelected, by the unaccountable, for the people they sympathize with.

Posted by: politbureau | July 31, 2010 2:15 AM | Report abuse

Oh gee, what else is new? Democrats from Nebraska, what the hell is your problem? You guys are still electing this bozo? When are you going to elect a team player, eh? You are screwing democrats all over and president Obama. It is high time for Nelson to fish or cut bait. He needs to go!

Posted by: sandnsmith | July 31, 2010 1:38 AM | Report abuse

Given Kagan's lack of any judicial experience, her refusal to make any substantive reply to very simple and direct questions about her judicial philosophy should render her unacceptable to any principled American. The vote on confirming Kagan comes down to a vote about principles. If principles do not concern you, Kagan should be confirmed. If principles still matter, rejection of Kagan is an easy call.

I. like so many Americans, would so like to see the Republicans become a party of principles. However, I am expecting to be disappointed by this vote.

Posted by: concernedcitizen3 | July 31, 2010 12:42 AM | Report abuse

"I have heard concerns from Nebraskans regarding Ms. Kagan, and her lack of a judicial record makes it difficult for me to discount the concerns raised by Nebraskans, or to reach a level of comfort that these concerns are unfounded. Therefore, I will not vote to confirm Ms. Kagan's nomination," Nelson said.

===========================

What's the deal here Nelson. You ignored your constituents on ObamaCare and now all of a sudden you can't "discount" their concerns. You've ruined your re-election chances with your vote on ObamaCare, you might as well just become an all out tool for this administration like the rest of your colleagues.

Posted by: conservativemaverick | July 30, 2010 11:35 PM | Report abuse

I think his rug is made of asbestus...

Posted by: Geopolitics101 | July 30, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Delare?

Posted by: tsher | July 30, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Men like Ben Nelson are gutless wonders. They don't care about what is right or good for America. They just want to be re-elected. Must be an awful lot of goodies attached to that job people; maybe we all should run.

Posted by: MNUSA | July 30, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

It's a wonder more elected representatives don't take a principle stand against the usurpation of their power to legislate by unelected, unaccountable Supreme Court "judges."

Posted by: politbureau | July 30, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Bravo, Senator Nelson. Just say "no" to activist would-be SCOTUS justices...and NO to nukes in the hands of Saudi oil barons.
www.patriotlost.us

Posted by: StMmonk | July 30, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

He misleads the entire country that the Democrats have a 60 vote majority by having a "D" behind his name and distorts the public discourse.
------------------

Snowe and Collins have R behind their names; isn't that an offsetting distortion? Sounds like Dems are one up in that trade off.

Posted by: tnvret | July 30, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

To Ben Nelson: If it's not worth fighting for, it's not worth voting for. The voters will see through the spineless centrist act.

Posted by: terminator_x | July 30, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse


I respect the need for each elected official to represent their constituents BUT in the LARGER pervue of being a Senator for the Federal Gov't of the ENTIRE country.

Since Sen. Nelson has performed more in his own interests than those of his country and of his party, he should switch his party affiliation to Independent and caucus with the Republicans.

He misleads the entire country that the Democrats have a 60 vote majority by having a "D" behind his name and distorts the public discourse. This is erroneous - Senator Nelson has never been a part of this Senate's "working" majority - just review his voting record for proof of that.

Posted by: DariMD1 | July 30, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse


I respect the need for each elected official to represent their constituents in the LARGER pervue of being a Senator for the Federal Gov't of the ENTIRE country.

Since Sen. Nelson has performed more in his own interests than those of his country and of his party, he should switch his party affiliation to Independent and caucus with the Republicans.

He misleads the entire country and the public discourse with having a "D" behind his name and that the Democrats have a 60 vote majority. That is erroneous - Senator Nelson has never been a part of that majority.

Posted by: DariMD1 | July 30, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Oh, so NOW Nelson is concerned with the wishes of his constituents?

This fool hides behind the people of his state in the most typical of political cowardice.

Posted by: keirmeister | July 30, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

LOL are you sure this guy is a democrat?

Posted by: PennyWisetheClown | July 30, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Nothing motivates a guy like the smell of his own blood.

Posted by: Chippewa | July 30, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

time to get rid of ben nelson.

Posted by: gce1356 | July 30, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

lame.

Posted by: jeffcoud2 | July 30, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

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