Senate confirms Kagan 63-37

Aug 5th, 2010 | By politicsnews | Category: Politics

The Senate has confirmed Elena Kagan as the newest Supreme Court justice, approving President Barack Obama’s second pick as president and making her the fourth woman to serve in the 221-year history of the court.

Kagan, Obama’s solicitor general and the former dean of Harvard Law School, will join the high court after its summer recess ends later this year, replacing retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, 90. As expected, the 63-37 vote confirming Kagan, who also served in the Clinton administration, was largely along party lines, with just five Republicans voting with Democrats to confirm her – and one Democrat, Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), voting no.

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Last year, just nine Republicans voted for Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Obama’s first Supreme Court appointee.

Kagan has “earned her place at the top of the legal profession,” said Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, (D-Vt.). Her background as a Supreme Court law clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall, as well as her service in the Clinton and Obama administrations, Leahy said, gives her “experience in all three branches of our government. This is unique.”

“Massachusetts is proud to send yet another outstanding public servant and great mind to serve on the Supreme Court,” said Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.). “I’m especially proud that in an America where women comprise more than half the population, Elena Kagan now joins Justices Ginsberg and Sotomayor in making history as the first women to comprise a full third of the highest court in our country.”

Though most believe Kagan will be a more moderate justice than Stevens, Republicans who voted against her cited her lack of courtroom experience rather than her ideology, noting she has spent the bulk of her legal career in politically-connected positions. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement Thursday he believes Kagan “is not suited to assume a lifetime position on our nation’s highest court” because she has little experience as a litigator and none as a judge. Her background, McConnell said, reveals “a woman who has spent much of her adult life not steeped in the practice of the law but in the art of politics. When we look at her resume, we find a woman who has worked fervently to advance the goals of the Democratic Party and liberal causes, usually at the expense of those with whom she disagrees politically or ideologically.”

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