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Senate poised to confirm Kagan this week

By Paul Kane

The Senate, tied in knots on almost every other legislative issue, is now on a glide path to confirming Elena Kagan as the fourth woman ever to serve as a Supreme Court justice.

Unable to find consensus on a series of domestic policy issues -- including help for small businesses, financial aid to cash-strapped states and energy legislation -- Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) moved the chamber into several days of debate for Kagan's nomination Tuesday morning.

(Full coverage of Kagan's nomination)
After coasting through her confirmation hearings in late June and winning approval from the Judiciary Committee two weeks ago, the solicitor general could have been confirmed many days ago.

Instead, Reid's leadership team decided that, whatever else happened in the last weeks of the summer legislative session, they wanted to finish on a high note. So, they set the schedule for Kagan's confirmation to be the last issue debated and voted on, likely Thursday afternoon or evening. The Senate will then recess for a nearly six-week break until mid-September.

"Perhaps we can draw inspiration from Ms. Kagan herself. In her confirmation hearing last year for the position she currently holds - as our nation's Solicitor General, that is, the government's lawyer in cases that come before the Supreme Court - Ms. Kagan testified that one of the attributes she would bring to the job was an 'understanding of how to separate the truly important from the spurious.' In the final days of this process, I suggest we keep those words in mind," Reid said Tuesday morning.

With five GOP senators already supporting her nomination, Republicans are not planning to force a filibuster vote on Kagan. One Democrat, conservative Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), has announced his intention of opposing her. She is likely to get from 63 to 65 votes approving her confirmation, which is fewer than the 68 given to Justice Sonia Sotomayor in August 2009 but more than the 58 votes secured by Justice Samuel Alito in 2006.

Barring a last-minute flare-up, the only remaining drama is over the vote of Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), whose Jan. 19 special election victory brought chants of "41, 41" because he gave Republicans the mythical 41st vote that could filibuster President Obama's agenda should the entire GOP conference hold together. Instead, Brown has shown a maverick streak in supporting some of Obama's domestic agenda but also at times forcefully opposing measures such as health-care reform. Because Kagan was dean of Harvard Law, Brown introduced Kagan to the Judiciary Committee, along with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), at her confirmation hearings.

Republicans expect to use the next three days to focus on the areas that they criticized Kagan for during those hearings, particularly accusations that she forbid the military from recruiting at Harvard Law and that she has never served as a judge, coming to this position with a more political background than some justices.

(Profile of Elena Kagan)

At 50, Kagan is poised to serve on the Supreme Court for decades to come, should she remain as healthy as retired Justice John Paul Stevens, the justice who announced his retirement at the age of 89.

"If this young nominee -- Elena Kagan -- were to serve the age of the individual she is now replacing, or would seek to replace, she would serve 38 years on the Supreme Court," Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said Tuesday. "Well, I'm not able to support Elena Kagan for this office. I believe she does not have the gifts and the qualities of mind or temperament that one must have to be a justice."

By Paul Kane  |  August 3, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Obama to GOP: 'You can't have the keys back!'
Next: Whither the 14th Amendment?

Comments

The anti-Kagan comments on here are simply regurgitations of whatever wild inaccuracies the writer last heard on Fox News.

If Kagan is such an "anti-republic radical," or "agenda-driven politician" (two of the milder things she has been called above), exactly WHY would Ken Starr offer his glowing recommendation of her? Or these from Estrada and McConnell? :

The essence of their take on Kagan, the former Harvard Law School dean who now serves as solicitor general, is that she clearly has the smarts to be a justice and has shown an ability to work with all sides on thorny issues.

"She has had a remarkable and truly unusual record of reaching out across ideological divides," said Michael McConnell, a former federal appeals court judge who was nominated by President George W. Bush.

Longtime Kagan friend Miguel Estrada, whose appeals court nomination by Bush was blocked by Senate Democrats, said, "She's clearly qualified for the court and should be confirmed. Obviously, she's a left-of-center academic who never would have been picked by a Republican. But no one can doubt her intellectual accomplishments."

Former special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, who ran the investigation that led to President Bill Clinton's impeachment, said charges by some conservatives that Kagan holds extreme views are off-base.


If a Democrat like Kagan can get a glowing review from Ken Starr, who never showed himself to be a non-partisan, then the rest of you nimrods on here who don't know Kagan (who, by the way, did not initiate the "no recruiters" policy at HLS; that had been in place when Bob Clark was still the dean) need to shut your ignorant pie-holes.

Posted by: pcpatterson | August 4, 2010 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Oh please all you who think the world is coming to an end because there is a smart, progressive thinker in the bunch. Think of how the rest of us have suffered knowing the large corporations can now buy our elections thanks to the right wingers.

Posted by: harrija1 | August 4, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Response to this comment:
"Fair enough, now if only the Senate could undo its confirmation of Roberts, Thomas, Scalia and Alioto. Then SCOTUS could be *unradicalized*

Posted by: Barry8 | August 3, 2010 8:29 PM"

Why stop there? May as well "undo" the Constitution and hand our country back to England. :(

Posted by: tncdel | August 3, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Kagan is an agenda-driven politician,

who ABUSED HER POWER as the Dean of Harvard, by banning the military from campus for her own personal reasons.

She also is an EXTREMIST pro-abortion supporter, on record for having defended PARTIAL-BIRTH abortions.

Kagan is unfit to render impartial decisions for the Supreme Court.

THUMBS DOWN. Next!

If she is approved, there will be major consequences for those who approved Kagan, come next elections.

Posted by: tncdel | August 3, 2010 9:26 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats rely on the courts to legislate because they're incapable of legislating the right way. Elena Kagan will be just one more piece of the puzzle, that forces the liberal will of the Democrats on the country.

The Republicans haven't learned a thing from the Democrats, as far as judicial appointments go. They're still playing nice after the way the Democrats treated George Bush's nominees.

If Barack Obama gets to pick another one, they'd better learn to fight and fight hard because the next one could be the death of our constitution as we know it, especially if a President and a political party who have no respect for it, get the pick.

Posted by: bflat879 | August 3, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

GOD HELP US ALL- PLEASE!!!!!!!

Posted by: markypolo | August 3, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Response to this comment:

The "Advise and Consent" authority means the Senate is NOT supposed to be a rubber stamp for the Presidents appointments to SCOTUS.

Kagan - like Obama himself, has a radicalized view of the Constitution.

**********************

Fair enough, now if only the Senate could undo its confirmation of Roberts, Thomas, Scalia and Alioto. Then SCOTUS could be *unradicalized*

Posted by: Barry8 | August 3, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

That's a damn shame. But there will be accountability next November.

Posted by: tncdel | August 3, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

If Elena Kagan is confirmed, for the first time, the US Supreme Court will have no members with military experience. This in large part illustrates the divide in our country from the “Overlord” class, largely Ivy League educated, and the middle class. Since Vietnam, the elite colleges in our country have shown an almost relentless distain for our military. Top Democrat talent is often drawn exclusively from these schools. Republican talent is more diverse, but still relies very heavily on Ivy League schools. At best, as General McChrystal so famously noted, liberal leaders are “uncomfortable” around military leaders. At worst, they are disdainful of them.

The Supreme Court now consists of graduates of three and only three top law schools (Harvard, Yale and Columbia). Since Vietnam, these schools have consistently looked for students from sources other than the ROTC. In a new study by Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade and his colleague Alexandria Radford “participation in such Red State activities as high school ROTC, 4-H clubs, or the Future Farmers of America was found to reduce very substantially a student’s chances of gaining admission to a competitive private college.” Excelling in these activities is “associated with 60 to 65 percent lower odds of admission.”

Posted by: rfd6187 | August 3, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

She is still the spitting image of the Pillsbury Doughboy.


Posted by: Jerzy | August 3, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I dont think she should be on the supreme court because SHE HAS NOT HELD POSITION OF JUDGE EVER!!!! I am athletic and know football like the back of my hand, does that make me eligible to go play for the Redskins this year, no... I know it is not the best example

Posted by: rvanags | August 3, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

When the vote of defining marriage arrives at the Supreme Court's door step, this woman may decide that marriage is not between a man and a women, but between anyone. How do you think "Christians" will react?

Posted by: clover12 | August 3, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

JJames081... nowhere in the US Constitution was authority granted to the Senate to be part of the Executive branch.

The "Advise and Consent" authority means the Senate is NOT supposed to be a rubber stamp for the Presidents appointments to SCOTUS.

Kagan - like Obama himself, has a radicalized view of the Constitution.

Posted by: Hazmat77 | August 3, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

"If this young nominee -- Elena Kagan -- were to serve the age of the individual she is now replacing, or would seek to replace, she would serve 38 years on the Supreme Court," Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said Tuesday. "Well, I'm not able to support Elena Kagan for this office. I believe she does not have the gifts and the qualities of mind or temperament that one must have to be a justice."

As someone rejected even by fellow Republicans from a federal judgeship for being excessively supportive of Klansmen, Jeff Sessions is in a splendid position to comment on the gifts and qualities of mind or temperament to be a justice.

Posted by: edallan | August 3, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

For no reason than to affirm his obstructionist Party of No leanings, Kit Bond today said he was still undecided.

Kagan, has no major issues. Next!

- Balkingpoints / www

Posted by: RField7 | August 3, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Republicans these days are amount to just barking, barking and barking some more.

At the end of the day, they can’t stop the Obama rolling train. They are mere bugs on the windshield ...on the track pavements.

Posted by: JJames081 | August 3, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Read the following to understand the difference between a liberal Democrat “social political activist “nominated by Obama to the Supreme Court compared to a Republican nominated Justice.
Kagan is of the “same cut” as Ginsburg who ruled against the Christian Legal Society, while Justice Alito wrote the following dissent:
The “admission of nonbelievers” undermines crucial First Amendment rights and the decision runs contrary to our nation’s legacy of protecting freedom of expression, even if some finds the speech disagreeable.
Instead, the Court majority (5-4) rests [its decision] on a very different principle: no freedom for expression that offends prevailing standards of political correctness in our country’s institutions of higher learning.” Thank God for Justice Alito and God Bless America and protect our freedom of expression and belief in God. Vote Republican for “No More Obama” nominees.

Posted by: klausdmk | August 3, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse


Sen. Jeff Sessions said:
"Well, I'm not able to support Elena Kagan for this office. I believe she does not have the gifts and the qualities of mind or temperament that one must have to be a justice."

Jeff Sessions is a throwback to when it was popular to believe that women should be barefoot and pregnant and tied to the kitchen stove till the "hubby" came home for dinner.

Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | August 3, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Sessions is a throwback to another time, such as the 19th century.

Posted by: jckdoors | August 3, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Sessions has been in a snit for so long it is a good thing he never was confirmed for a judicial position. The little jug-eared bridge troll.

Posted by: jmsbh | August 3, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Sessions is such a sanctimonius hypocrite: he's still pouting about getting nixed 24 years ago. What Kagan said in her testimony was irrelevant to him; he knew how he was going to vote from the start.

Posted by: fortenbaugh | August 3, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Get her confirmed ASAP, reid.

Posted by: funkey | August 3, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

How can any republican vote for this anti republic radical ?To bad their ain't any more continents to flee to again.The end is coming faster then they think."and they were going about with all of their business up untill Noah entered the ark"

Posted by: votingrevolution | August 3, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

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