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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Capitol Hill

Craig Schulz

Washington, DC


Sessions Cites Concerns about Kagan

May 16, 2010 - 5:01 PM | by: Craig Schulz

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the Ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Sunday he has some concerns about the substance of Elena Kagan’s record.

Speaking to Shannon Bream on America’s News Headquarters, Senator Sessions said he was disturbed by Kagan’s lack of legal experience.

“She’s never tried a case,” he said. “She’s never stood before a jury, examined a witness in a courtroom. That’s a lack, I think, that is significant. It’s not disqualifying but it’s a serious lack.”

Kagan is currently responsible for managing the Government’s argument in cases that appear before the Supreme Court. Sessions said judicial philosophy will likely be a prominent focus of questioning when Kagan comes before the Judiciary Committee.

“We have within the law schools some activist philosophies,” Sessions said, “that suggest judges can allow their empathy – and as President Obama said – their feelings, their ideology to influence how they interpret plain words in our laws. I think that’s a danger.”

“I think all our liberties are weakened if a judge is not faithful to the law. If they can change the law, the next judge can change the law and the next judge can change the law, and it just weakens the protections that our Constitution gives every single American.”

Democrats came to Kagan’s defense, however, on Sunday. In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday morning, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) said he was impressed with how well Kagan could bring people together while serving as Dean of Harvard Law.

“Sometimes when you have people way up there in that rarified ivory tower, they forget the practical consequences of their decisions on businesses, on local governments, on people,” he said. “One of the things she had to do, which she may have to do on the court, is bring the conservative and liberal factions together. And both sides said she did a very good job.”

Sessions also raised Kagan’s tenure as Dean of Harvard Law and suggested he’ll have some tough questions for her about her decision to prevent military recruiters from using the office of career services because of her opposition to the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy of gays in the military.

“The thing that’s worrisome is that Congress and President Clinton established this policy,” Sessions said. “It wasn’t the military. Yet they were punishing our military men and women for something the political branches did. If she wanted to complain, let them complain to us.”

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, suggested Republicans are trying to make more out of this issue than it deserves.

“If somebody wants to go in the military, they usually find a recruiter,” Senator Leahy said. “I mean, I don’t think there was a recruiting station on the campus when my youngest son went and joined the Marine Corps. He wanted to join the Marine Corps. He had no trouble finding a recruiter. And I think in this case, the recruitment went on at Harvard all the way through. This really is trying to make up something out of whole cloth.”

On CBS News’ “Face the Nation” Sunday, Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) said he doesn’t think Republicans will filibuster Kagan’s nomination.

“The filibuster should be relegated to the extreme circumstances,” Kyl said, “and I don’t think Elena Kagan represents that.”

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