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Kagan hearings to begin in late June

WASHINGTON — Elena Kagan will face the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 28, committee chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont said today, keeping her nomination on track for confirmation before the August recess.

Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken are both members of the Judiciary Committee. Both Klobuchar and Franken met with Kagan over the last week and though neither have officially announced their support, both have spoken highly of her.

Kagan’s nomination hearing will begin exactly 49 days after she was nominated, a deliberate move by Democrats who hope to deflect any possible controversy over the hearing’s timing. Sonia Sotomayor’s hearing came 48 days after her nomination, and John Roberts’ hearing was scheduled to begin 49 days after his nomination (though it was delayed by the death of Chief Justice Rehnquist and his subsequent nomination for chief justice).

“There is no reason to unduly delay consideration of this nomination,” Leahy said in a statement. “Justice Stevens announced on April 9 that he would be leaving the Court.  He noted that ‘it would be in the best interests of the Court to have [his] successor appointed and confirmed well in advance of the commencement of the Court’s next Term,’ and I wholeheartedly agree with Justice Stevens. That is in the best interests of the Court, and the country.”

Leahy had said he wouldn’t schedule the hearing until Kagan replied to the committee’s questionnaire, which she did yesterday (and which can be found here).

More on the timing and its effect is here from the always-excellent SCOTUSblog, which correctly reasoned out the starting date a week ago using the same logic Leahy outlined today.

Update: Judiciary Ranking Republican Jeff Sessions of Alabama released a statement saying he asked Leahy to begin the hearings after the July 4th recess, which would be as early as July 12.

That extra time, he said, is needed to review Kagan’s responses to questions and to receive and review additional requested documents that cover Kagan’s service in the Clinton Administration.

“At this time, it remains to be seen whether the schedule set by the Chairman will be adequate to allow us to meet our important constitutional responsibility to thoroughly review Ms. Kagan’s record on behalf of the American people and to hold respectful and substantive hearings that reflect well on both our Committee and the entire Senate,” Sessions said in a statement.

“Additionally, as I told Chairman Leahy, developments may occur during the course of such a review that simply require additional time—such as issues relating to document production or the need for more information connected with substantive controversies. If that is the case, we would be obligated to demand additional time.”

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