Kagan clears Judiciary Committee on divided vote

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee today on a largely party-line vote.

South Carolina’s Sen. Lindsey Graham was the only Republican on the committee to support her. Every Democrat, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, voted for approval.

“I’m glad to support her,” Klobuchar said in today’s hearing. “In every job she’s had she’s worked very hard and she’s done very well. She has a lot of practical experience reaching out to people who hold very different beliefs.

Franken said: “I think that [Solicitor] General Kagan understands the place, the Supreme Court, and its relationship to the executive, to the legislature and to the American people. She won’t be a judge that legislates from the bench.”

The Kagan vote was originally set for July 13 but was stalled by Republicans, who said they hadn’t had enough time to consider her nomination. The timeline has so far largely hewed to that of Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation in 2009, when the GOP voiced similar complaints. 

“She is a highly experienced person,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in today’s hearing. “Solicitor General Kagan demonstrated an impressive knowledge of the law and fidelity to it.”

Kagan currently serves as solicitor general and counts a clerkship for then-Justice Thurgood Marshall and work in the Clinton White House among her former experiences. 

If approved by the Senate, Kagan will become the fourth woman to serve on the court, and for the first time in history three women would sit on the court at the same time. 

Kagan received the American Bar Association’s highest ranking as “well qualified” for the seat on the nation’s highest court and has been publicly supported by Justice Antonin Scalia and former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said that the nomination process has gone by too fast and reasserted his concerns for Kagan’s “long involvement” in politics and minimal time spent practicing law.

“That’s the experience that separates the lawyer’s lawyer from the political lawyer,” Sessions said Tuesday.

Kagan’s nomination to replace Justice John Paul Stevens will continue on to the Senate for a vote that is expected before the August recess. 

Lauren Knobbe is an intern in MinnPost’s D.C. Bureau

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