The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court by a vote of 13-6, with Sen. Lindsey Graham breaking GOP ranks and supporting her.
Although the South Carolina Republican played coy during the weeks leading up to the Judiciary Committee vote, he repeatedly praised Kagan’s performance during her confirmation hearings and was widely expected to back her.
Prior to the vote, Graham said, “there are plenty of reasons for a conservative to vote no’ but there are plenty of reasons for a conservative to vote yes'” on her confirmation.
Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said that during her hearings Kagan “demonstrated an impressive knowledge of the law and fidelity to it. She spoke of judicial restraint, her respect for our democratic institutions, and her commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law.”
But ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) repeatedly attacked Kagan, accusing her of lying to the committee and engaging in “political spin” during her testimony. Sessions specifically cited Kagan’s testimony on her handling of military recruiters while she was dean of Harvard Law School, saying she “chose to spin the facts in a way that was at best misleading and at worst, dishonest.”
The committee vote sets up a floor fight that is expected to begin by the end of July. Republicans have indicated they will use the floor debate as a chance to weaken support for Kagan — highlighting her record on abortion, gays in the military and other issues. But even her staunchest opponents acknowledge she is expected to be confirmed with more than the 60 votes needed to break a GOP filibuster.
Kagan will become just the fourth female Supreme Court justice in U.S. history if confirmed, and once seated it would mark the first time three women have served on the court at the same time.