Kagan’s Nomination to Senate Floor TuesdayAugust 2, 2010 - 5:32 PM | by: Lee Ross
The final debate on Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court will start Tuesday according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
It was widely assumed that Kagan’s nomination would hit the Senate floor this week, the last before the senators break for their summer recess, but the exact timing was unknown until Reid made the announcement Monday afternoon.
Kagan’s nomination has generated intense debate and scrutiny but hardly anyone in official Washington thinks the nominee will be denied a seat on the Supreme Court.
As of Monday, 24 senators have publically announced their intention to vote against Kagan–all Republicans except for Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., who announced his opposition to the 50 year old last week.
“Her lack of a judicial record makes it difficult for me to discount the concerns raised by Nebraskans, or to reach a level of comfort that these concerns are unfounded,” Nelson said. Kagan is the former dean of the Harvard Law School and now serves as U.S. Solicitor General. She has never been a judge and if confirmed would become the only member of the high court to have never worn a judicial robe.
Nelson says he will not support a filibuster believing that Kagan deserves a final vote on the Senate floor. While keeping the option available, at no point in the past couple of months have Republican leaders indicated that a filibuster is likely. Without the filibuster, a bare majority of senators is needed for Kagan to become the fourth woman to serve on the Supreme Court. This is a near certainly because no other Democrats are expected to join Nelson’s opposition.
So far, five Republican senators have announced their intention to vote for Kagan. These five also voted for Sonia Sotomayor last year. “Ms. Kagan has pledged that she will exercise judicial restraint and decide each case that comes before her based on the law, with objectivity and without regard to her personal views,” Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., declared last week.
The only Republican who voted for Sotomayor in 2009 to come out against Kagan is Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. who last month said he’s troubled by Kagan’s time in Massachusetts. “I remain deeply troubled by her aggressive opposition to allowing military recruiters the same access to Harvard Law School as other prospective employers when she was its dean.”
The controversy over Kagan’s record at Harvard was a central focus of her confirmation hearing. Nonetheless, all Democrats and one Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted for Kagan.
Also on Monday, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to all of his colleagues asking for their careful review of the nominee’s record. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said “it is all but certain that, if confirmed, Ms. Kagan will bring to the bench a progressive activist judicial philosophy which holds that unelected judges are empowered to set national policy from the bench. That anti-democratic philosophy is contrary to the rule of law, and views the Constitution’s limits on and separation of powers as a roadblock to be evaded.”
It isn’t immediately clear when Kagan will officially become a member of the Supreme Court after the Senate vote. Assuming she wins confirmation Kagan will need to be sworn into office. Last year, Chief Justice John Roberts performed that duty for Sotomayor at the court which was followed by a reception at the White House.
Fox’s Trish Turner contributed to this report.