The Senate Judiciary Committee has gaveled to order historic Supreme Court hearings for Elana Kagan, a Clinton era legal adviser who is the second woman President Barack Obama has put forward for a seat on the bench.
Camera crews clustered in front of the witness table as Kagan, who has served as solicitor general for Obama, came in and took her seat for much-awaited questioning by senators. Republicans, particularly, are ready to interrogate Kagan on what judicial temperament she would exhibit on the court.
Kagan is ready to say she'll judge cases with impartiality and modesty. She's been a pioneering figure for women in law, the first female Harvard law school dean and the first to argue the government's cases before the high court as solicitor general.
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan pledged Tuesday to be properly deferential to Congress if confirmed as a justice and strive to "consider every case impartially, modestly, with commitment to principle and in accordance with law."
In advance excerpts of her opening statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kagan said the court is responsible for making sure the government does not violate the rights of individuals. "But the Court must also recognize the limits on itself and respect the choices made by the American people," she said.
Even before the opening gavel fell on her nationally televised hearings, the 50-year-old Obama administration official and former Harvard Law School dean appeared on track for confirmation, the result of a Democratic majority on the Judiciary Committee and the Senate as a whole.
In excerpts of his own, the committee's chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., noted that if confirmed, Kagan would be the fourth woman to take a seat on the high court. She is also President Barack Obama's second selection to don the robes of a justice, following his nomination last year of Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
"No senator should seek to impose an ideological litmus test to secure promises of specific outcomes in cases coming before the Supreme Court," Leahy said.
Judging by recent confirmation history, there was little chance that Kagan would run afoul of that admonition. In the last quarter century, most nominees to the Supreme Court have pledged fealty to the Constitution and legal precedent — and little else — in their effort to win confirmation.
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