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Day 3: Nominee Kagan Won't Criticize Roberts Court

Wednesday, 30 Jun 2010 09:46 AM

Elena Kagan declined an invitation to criticize the current Supreme Court on Wednesday, testifying at the third day of her confirmation hearings, "I'm sure everyone up there is acting in good faith."

In a lengthy exchange with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Kagan said pointedly she didn't agree with the Rhode Island Democrat's analysis that justices appointed by Republican presidents were "driving the law in a new direction by the narrowest possible margins" in a series of 5-4 rulings.

The exchange occurred as Kagan returned to the witness chair for another long day of questioning by members of the committee that will vote first on her nomination for the high court. She appears well on her way toward confirmation, although it is unclear how many, if any, of the panel's seven Republicans will support her.

Unlike the first two days of the hearings, there were few if any spectators in line to witness a bit of history. Democrats hoped to conclude questioning of President Barack Obama's nominee by day's end.

"I do hope we can learn more about the nominee," said Sen. Jeff Sessions, of Alabama, the panel's senior Republican. "We see her gifts and graces, in many ways those are revealed in her humor and her knowledge," he said.

In something of a jab at her reticence to expand on numerous legal controversies, he said some critics are wondering what she believes and "whether you would be more like John Roberts and Ruth Bader Ginsburg."

Ginsburg, appointed by President Bill Clinton, is generally viewed as being a member of the court's liberal wing, cast into the minority on a series of controversial 5-4 rulings.

Whitehouse seemed more concerned with Roberts and the other justices who frequently side with him in closely decided cases.

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