Elena Kagan: Despite partisan splits, confirmation appears likely
Elena Kagan debate began in the Senate Tuesday. The start of several days of discussion over her nomination to the Supreme Court was marked by partisan divides, but Elena Kagan is expected to easily win confirmation.
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Kagan was nominated by President Obama to fill the seat of retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. If confirmed she would become only the fourth woman to serve as a Supreme Court justice and her service in the court’s fall term would mark the first time three women sat together on the same nine-member court.Skip to next paragraph
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In her career, Kagan has achieved several historic firsts – breaking two glass ceilings. She was the first woman to serve as dean of Harvard Law School, and she was the first woman confirmed as US Solicitor General.
She has worked for the past year and a half in that job, arguing the government’s cases at the Supreme Court.
Among issues raised by Republican opponents are her actions in barring military recruiting at Harvard Law School’s office of career services at a time when federal law required recruiters be given full access to students.
Some senators object to her involvement as a White House policy advisor who prevented an effort to ban a partial-birth abortion procedure. Critics say she appeared motivated to protect the policy and legal position of pro-choice advocates in the divisive issue.
In addition, questions have been raised about her support for the high court’s recent decisions establishing a right to keep and bear arms. Some Republican senators also question how broadly she might interpret the commerce clause as granting Congress authority to regulate a wide swath of American life, including the President’s health care law.
It isn’t just an issue for Republicans.
“Congress’s authority to promote the general welfare cannot be in doubt,” Leahy said in his speech on the Senate floor. “Growing old no longer means growing poor. Being poor no longer means going without medical care.”
In repeating his earlier announced support for Kagan, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina said he would vote to confirm the president’s choice even though he was sure he would disagree with many of her decisions at the high court.
Senator Graham said senators on the both the left and the right were so politicizing the Supreme Court nomination process that good people will no longer come forward to serve as judges and justices.
“The judiciary is the most fragile branch of government,” he said. “They have no army. All they have is the force of the Constitution, the respect of the other branches of government, and hopefully the support of the American people.”
He added: “The one thing we don’t want to lose in this country is an independent judiciary. We are putting the men and women willing to serve in these jobs through hell.”
The debate is expected to continue through Thursday.
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- How Elena Kagan worked to limit military recruiting at Harvard