Judiciary Committee votes to send Kagan nomination to full Senate News
Judiciary Committee votes to send Kagan nomination to full Senate
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[JURIST] The US Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] Tuesday voted 13-6 [hearing video] to send the Supreme Court nomination of Elena Kagan [official profile; JURIST news archive] to the full Senate. The vote divided largely along party lines, with Democrats voting unanimously in favor of sending the nomination forward, joined by one Republican vote. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) [official website] explained his ‘no’ vote [press release] by arguing that Kagan did not meet a “proper judicial philosophy” and that her testimony suggested that her values were “out of step with those of the American people.” Before casting his vote in support Kagan’s nomination, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) [official website] criticized the confirmation process, arguing that senators allow their personal philosophies to influence their vote and said:

I think there’s a good reason for a conservative to vote yes, and that’s provided in the Constitution itself. … All of us abhor judicial activism, … [but] are we living in an age of legislative activism[?] … I could give you a hundred reasons to vote ‘no,’ … but the Constitution in my view puts a requirement on me as a senator to not replace my judgment for [the president’s], … it puts upon me a standard … that’s stood the test of time: is the person qualified, is it a person of good character, is it someone who understands the difference between being a judge and being a politician, and quite frankly, I think [Kagan has] passed all those tests.

In a statement following the vote, President Barack Obama [official profile] described the vote as a “bipartisan affirmation” [press release] of Kagan’s strong performance during the confirmation hearings. The full Senate is expected to vote on the nomination next month.

Last week, the committee delayed the vote on the confirmation [JURIST report] at the request of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) [official website]. In requesting the delay, Sessions described the confirmation process as moving in an “expeditious manner,” [hearing video] and went on to outline his potential objections to Kagan’s confirmation. Among them, he called Kagan’s answers to questions during her confirmation hearings as “less than candid” and expressed concern over her positions on legislation during her time working in the Clinton administration. Kagan’s confirmation hearings concluded last month [JURIST report]. During the hearings, Kagan addressed the effect of political bias on the court and stressed 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. Obama nominated Kagan [JURIST report] in May to replace 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.