Few doubt that Elena Kagan will be the next Supreme Court justice. But thats not stopping Senate Republicans from continuing their campaign to try to derail her nomination.
From now until August, the GOP Conference will launch its latest assault on Kagan, with plans to try to tar her as a Democratic political operative who would bring to the court liberal views on abortion, gun rights, campaign finance and the military. Republicans hope that even if they cant stop the nomination, they can build enough opposition to force a highly partisan vote.
Kagan, the current solicitor general, completed four days of confirmation hearings by the Judiciary Committee last week. And while she was able to walk away without making any serious blunders, Republicans believe the hearings provided them with some fresh ammunition to use against her. The panel is set to vote on her confirmation on July 13, sending it to the full Senate for consideration. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he wants the vote to occur before Members adjourn for the recess on Aug. 6.
The Senate reconvenes next week after the July Fourth recess. Immediately upon their return to Washington, GOP Senators will begin the latest round of charges against Kagan. One GOP Judiciary aide gave a preview: Youve got a set of specific issues ... and then a ribbon that runs through them, which is her political approach to the law.
The Republicans goal, according to this aide, is to raise the question of whether she will be an individual voice on the bench or will she be a rubber stamp for President Obama on the bench.
The offensive, which largely mirrors the Republicans line of questioning during Kagans Judiciary hearings, will primarily be aimed at convincing moderate Democrats and undecided Republicans to oppose the nomination. Republicans are hoping those Senators will find aspects of her record unacceptable for a prospective high court justice particularly her decision when she was dean of Harvard Law School to limit military recruiters access to the campus because of the dont ask, dont tell policy banning openly gay individuals from serving.
Kagans handling of the military recruiters was a dead letter on Day One for moderate Senators, the Judiciary aide argued.
Republicans also hope to use that issue to convince Senators that Kagan isnt trustworthy and that she wasnt forthcoming enough during her hearings on the subject. Republicans believe they already scored at least one victory on that front Friday when Sen. Orrin Hatch a veteran member of the Judiciary Committee announced he would vote no.
Hatch, the first committee member and just the second Republican Senator to announce his opposition, said he did not believe Kagan has the qualifications for judicial service [including] both legal experience and, more importantly, the appropriate judicial philosophy.
The law must control the judge; the judge must not control the law. I have concluded that, based on evidence rather than blind faith, General Kagan regrettably does not meet this standard and that, therefore, I cannot support her appointment, Hatch said.