Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy pushed back against GOP attacks on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan on Tuesday, highlighting her record and calling on colleagues to “refocus on the qualifications of this extraordinary nominee.”
“So far, there has been too much talk about process and too much partisanship surrounding this important matter,” the Vermont Democrat said on the floor. He noted that Kagan “has met with dozens of Senators” in preparation for confirmation hearings that will begin June 28.
Leahy’s comments come as Republicans ramp up their attack on Kagan. Judiciary ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said Monday that he would stall Kagan’s hearings if files from her work in the Clinton administration were not released. Sessions also criticized Kagan’s decision to ban military recruiters from the campus of Harvard Law School, where she served as dean, in opposition to the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military. The House is expected to consider language this week to end the policy enacted in 1993. The Senate Armed Services panel is expected to consider an amendment with similar language this week.
“How ironic that the policy of nondiscrimination Elena Kagan sought to encourage while serving as dean of Harvard Law School is poised to become the law of the land while those who oppose her nomination continue to distort her lawful actions to ensure that the school follow its nondiscrimination policy,” Leahy said.
It is unclear whether supporters of repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” have the votes in either the House or the Senate.
Kagan was scheduled to meet Tuesday with Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.). She was nominated May 10 to fill the seat being vacated by retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, and Senate Democrats hope to confirm her by August.