Elena Kagan was confirmed to a seat on the Supreme Court
Thursday. The Senate voted 63-37, mostly along party lines, to make
Kagan America's 112th Supreme Court justice.
Elena Kagan, the first woman to serve as dean of Harvard Law
School and solicitor general of the United States, won confirmation
Thursday to a seat on the US Supreme Court. She becomes the 112th
person to don the robes of America's highest court, and only the
fourth woman to serve as a justice. The vote was 63 to 37.
Her confirmation offers President Obama and the Democratic
leadership in the Senate a clear victory as the senators head home
for their August recess.
The confirmation also sets the stage for a historic event in
early October when the high court convenes for its new term. It will
mark the first time three women will serve together as justices on
the nine-member Supreme Court. Despite firm opposition from most
Republicans during three days of debate on the Senate floor, Kagan
won relatively easy confirmation. There were no surprises. And no
attempt at a filibuster. In the end, five Republicans voted for her
and one Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, voted against her.
Last year, nine Republicans voted to confirm Mr. Obama's first
Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, whose total vote was 68-31.
Speaking from the floor of the Senate, majority leader Harry Reid
enumerated his reasons for supporting Kagan.
"Because of her intellect and integrity; her reason, restraint
and respect for the rule of law; her unimpeachable character and
unwavering fidelity to our Constitution, I am proud to cast my vote
for her confirmation," Senator Reid (D) of Nevada said.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky packed a
host of objections to Kagan in his statement opposing her. "Ms.
Kagan's background as a political operative, her lengthy resume of
zealous advocacy for political and ideological causes, often at the
expense of the law and those whose views differ from her own, her
attachment to the president and his political and ideological goals,
including his belief in the extra-constitutional notion that judges
should favor some over others make her precisely the kind of
nominee, in my view, the Founders were concerned about and that
senators would have reason to oppose," Senator McConnell said.
Kagan, 50, was nominated by Obama to replace retiring Justice John
Paul Stevens, 90, who had served on the court for 34 years. Her
selection is seen by analysts as an attempt by Obama to reconstitute
the high court's liberal wing with relatively young justices able to
challenge Chief Justice John Roberts and his conservative colleagues
- perhaps for decades. Kagan's arrival on the court is not expected
to result in a significant shift in the general balance of power
between the court's conservatives and liberals. She is assumed to be
a safe liberal vote on most issues, similar to the voting
characteristics of retiring Justice Stevens. …