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Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Kagan Nomination

Posted Jul 20, 2010 11:36 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved the nomination of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court by a 13-6 vote.

The only Republican who supported Kagan was Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, report CBS News and the Associated Press. Graham said he had a constitutional obligation to support a qualified nominee such as Kagan, although he would have preferred someone more conservative.

"What's in Elena Kagan's heart is that of a good person who adopts a philosophy I disagree with," Graham said. "She will serve this nation honorably, and it would not have been someone I would have chosen, but the person who did choose, President Obama, I think chose wisely."

The full Senate is expected to consider the nomination before the August recess. If Kagan is approved, the Supreme Court will have three women justices for the first time and will have four Democratic appointees for the first time since 1971, the Los Angeles Times notes.

Two Republicans who voted against Kagan announced their stance today in two separate editorials, Politico reports. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama explained his vote in USA Today. “Throughout her career, Ms. Kagan has placed her politics above the law,” he wrote. “She has never been a judge, never tried a case before a jury and has practiced law for only three years. She is the least experienced nominee in the last half-century.”

Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma expressed his opposition in the Bench Memos blog published by the National Review Online. “With Kagan on the court, Congress and the executive branch may succeed at sweeping away whatever limitations remain on its power to micromanage the decisions of states and individuals,” he said.

The Los Angeles Times says public support for Kagan is lagging behind that of other recent nominees. In a Gallup poll taken in early July, 44 percent said Kagan should be confirmed and 34 percent were opposed. In prior years, 55 percent said Sonia Sotomayor should be confirmed, 54 percent approved of Samuel A. Alito Jr., and 60 percent supported John G. Roberts Jr. for chief justice.

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