Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan deftly handled her second day
of questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee and appears
headed for confirmation.
Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan endured her second full day of
questioning at the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, and she
appears to be well on her way toward confirmation.
The Kagan hearings have been notable for their relative lack of
The solicitor general and former dean of Harvard Law School again
faced repeated, close questioning about her decision in late 2004 to
bar military recruiters from the law school's office of career
services in what her critics say was defiance of the Solomon
She has sought to reassure the senators that she does not harbor
a secret agenda to push the court in one direction or another. And
she has spent hours in the now familiar dance of high court nominees
- the side-step shuffle - choosing her words carefully, saying just
enough about her view of constitutional law to demonstrate
understanding without telegraphing how she might vote in a future
Democrats attack some Roberts court decisions
The hearings have also been used by the Democratic majority as a
platform to attack certain decisions by the Supreme Court under
Chief Justice John Roberts. Democratic critics maintain the high
court engaged in conservative judicial activism when it struck down
part of a campaign finance law earlier this year. It was also the
first case Kagan argued before the high court as solicitor general.
On Wednesday, several Republican senators pressed Kagan on the
military recruiting issue at Harvard. Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama
and Orrin Hatch of Utah objected to her testimony on Tuesday that
"the military at all times during my deanship had full and good
access" to Harvard students.
Senator Hatch said the student veterans group that reluctantly
agreed to help military recruiters had a "tiny budget and no office
space." He added: "All they could do is establish an e-mail
Hatch asked: "Is this what you referred to yesterday as full and
complete access to our students and an equal substitute to the
office of career services?"
'Reasonable people can disagree'
"I appreciate that reasonable people can disagree," Kagan said.
"But the military ... had excellent access to our students."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina suggested that by
barring military recruiters from the law school's own recruiting
office Kagan was attempting to make a political statement.
"I was trying on one hand to ensure military recruiting, and on
the other, defending the school's long-standing antidiscrimination
policy," Kagan said. "I had an institutional responsibility." (She
was speaking of the conflict between Harvard's antidiscrimination
policy and the US military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy barring
gay men and lesbians from openly serving in uniform.)
Sen. John Cornyn (R) of Texas said Kagan's policy shift seemed
aimed at stigmatizing the US military on the Harvard campus. …