Senate sends Kagan to Supreme Court

Jessica M. Karmasek Aug. 5, 2010, 3:33pm


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The U.S. Senate confirmed Elena Kagan Thursday as the 112th justice of the Supreme Court.

On a 63-37 vote, Kagan became President Barack Obama's second lifetime appointment to the court in the past year. Sonia Sotomayor won 68 votes for her confirmation as the court's first Latina justice.

Kagan -- the only justice currently on the court without judicial experience -- will be the fourth woman ever to sit on the high court. She joins Sotomayor and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the first ever bloc of three women serving on the court at the same time.

Five Senate Republicans supported Kagan to succeed retired Justice John Paul Stevens. One Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, was opposed.

During the roll call senators voted from their desks, a ceremonial move that is reserved only for the most important of votes.

The Senate floor debate over her nomination began Tuesday morning.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday that Kagan "is not a judge committed to restraint."

He contends Kagan will be an "activist, liberal, progressive, politically-minded judge who will advance her causes under the guise of judging."

Kagan won approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee last month. The vote was 13-6, with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., joining the majority Democrats. Sessions voted "no" on Obama's nominee to succeed Stevens.

A 50-year-old New York native, Kagan has served as the president's top Supreme Court lawyer since last year. Stevens retired in June after more than 34 years on the court.

As U.S. solicitor general, Kagan represents the government before the Supreme Court. She also served as a lawyer and domestic policy adviser in the Clinton White House and for almost six years headed the faculty at Harvard Law School.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced this week it has declined to endorse her. The Chamber previously endorsed Obama-nominee Sotomayor.

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