Elena Kagan Confirmed to Supreme Court, 63 to 37
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As expected, the Senate approved on Thursday the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court on a 63-37 vote.
Fifty-six Democrats, two independents, and five Republicans voted in favor Kagan's nomination, while one Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, joined 36 Republicans in voting no.
Kagan watched the vote on television from a Justice Department conference room with her colleagues, the White House said.
The road to Thursday's confirmation was mostly smooth for Kagan, who was approved earlier in the summer by the Senate Judiciary Committee, 13 to 6, with the support of one Republican, Sen. Lindsey Graham. By Wednesday night, Kagan had won approval from 60 senators, including five Republicans, giving her a filibuster-proof majority for her confirmation.
Supporters called her both loyal to the rule of law and qualified for the high court.
"General Elena Kagan is a public servant who has remained far above the public fray," Majority Leader Harry Reid said. "Because of her intellect, her integrity, her respect for the law and her unwavering fidelity to the Constitution, I am proud to vote for Elena Kagan to be the next justice on the Supreme Court."
But her nomination was never completely without controversy, as top GOP senators blasted her lack of judicial experience and warned that her work as a clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall, and a job in the Clinton White House, proved her partisan instincts.
Conservatives pointed to Kagan's role in limiting military recruiters' access to Harvard law students' career office when she was the dean there. They also objected to her work in the Clinton administration during the debate on banning partial-birth abortion and called it evidence she would be a solidly pro-choice vote on the court.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, spoke in opposition to her nomination. "Ms. Kagan has never been a judge and never argued before a jury," Sessions said. "She has practiced law for just three years. Ms. Kagan has less real legal experience than any nominee in the last half-century. Throughout Ms. Kagan's career she has put her politics above the law."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called Kagan "not suited to assume a position on this nation's highest court," saying that her career, in his opinion, had not been spent "in the pursuit of the law, but in the art of politics."
Now that the Senate has confirmed Kagan, she will be sworn in quickly to succeed retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. She'll then have about two months to hire a staff and prepare for the court's opening session in October, when she'll also have a formal investiture ceremony.
Kagan is the fourth woman confirmed in the court's history and will become the third woman on the current court.
Well, just because they lean a certain way before they become a Supreme Court justice, doesn't mean they will continue that.