June 28, 2010
(VOA) Senate confirmation hearings have begun for Elena Kagan, President Barack Obama’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.
With the bang of a gavel, Democratic Chairman Patrick Leahy opened confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee for Elena Kagan, the president’s pick to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.
Senator Leahy says Kagan is a trailblazer for women in the law and will bring unique qualities to the high court if confirmed.
“I believe we are a better country for the path of excellence Elena Kagan has taken in her career, a path now open to both men and women,” says Leahy.
Republicans question Kagan’s lack of experience as a judge. They also are expected to grill the nominee about her judicial and political philosophy.
Senator Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, says “It is not a coronation, as I have said, but a confirmation process. Serious and substantive questions will be asked and Ms. Kagan will be given ample opportunity to respond.”
In prepared remarks for the committee, Kagan said the Supreme Court must ensure that government never violates the rights of individuals. But she says the court also must recognize its own limits and respect the choices made by the American people. Kagan now serves as the U.S. Solicitor General and argues the Obama administration’s views in Supreme Court cases.
Most legal and political experts predict Kagan will be confirmed by the Senate unless there are new, unexpected developments during the hearings. President Obama wants Kagan confirmed in time to take her seat on the nine-member panel when the next Supreme Court term begins in October.
If confirmed, Kagan would become the third woman on the current court.