The US Senate [official website] on Tuesday heard final statements [transcript] on the confirmation of US Supreme Court [official website] nominee Elena Kagan [official profile; JURIST news archive]. Most Senate Republicans oppose her confirmation, but have chosen not to pursue a filibuster [Washington Post report] given statements from five Republicans confirming that they will vote for Kagan's confirmation. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee [official websites], questioned Kagan's "discipline" [video] and called her an "activist, liberal, progressive, politically-minded judge who will not be happy to simply decide cases, but will seek to advance her causes." Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) [official website] explained his decision to support Kagan [video], arguing that the Advise and Consent Clause of the US Constitution [text] is not meant to subject nominees to the discretion of the Congress, but only to check against the appointment of judges who are grossly lacking in character or qualifications or who were inappropriately nominated:
We're trying to make sure the President, he or she, picks a good, qualified judge, not some unfit character, not some person ... who would be a lousy judge. Now, when I apply that standard to Elena Kagan, I cannot find anything about her that makes her an unfit character to me. Quite frankly, from what I know about her from listening to her for a couple of days and having people tell me about her, is I think she's a very fine person, with stellar character.Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) [official website] is the only Democratic member of the Senate expected to vote against Kagan. The final vote on her nomination is expected Thursday.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Kagan's nomination [JURIST report] last month with a largely party-line 13-6 vote [video]. Earlier that month, the committee delayed its vote [JURIST report] at Sessions's request. In asking for the delay, Sessions cited concerns over Kagan's positions [video] on legislation during the her time working in the Clinton administration and called her answers to questions during the hearing "less than candid." Kagan's confirmation hearing concluded in June [JURIST report]. During the hearings, Kagan addressed the effect of political bias on the court and stresed the importance of not bringing politics to the bench. Kagan's confirmation hearings began [JURIST report] with Democratic and Republican senators offering contrasting interpretations of Kagan's judicial philosophy and lack of experience on the bench. President Barack Obama nominated Kagan [JURIST report] in May to replace former justice John Paul Stevens, who announced his retirement [JURIST report] in April. Kagan became the first woman confirmed as Solicitor General [JURIST report] in 2009.