Moderates Appear Warm to Kagan Nomination

Posted May 13, 2010 at 3:01pm

Moderate Sens. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) offered positive reviews of Supreme Court hopeful Elena Kagan on Thursday but stopped short of endorsing her nomination.

The three Senators described their meetings with the high court hopeful as productive, and they said they appreciated her answers to their questions.

While Collins said, “I’m not going to make a final decision on her nomination until the Judiciary Committee finishes its hearings,” she called her session with Kagan “very good” and threw cold water on the possibility of a filibuster.

“At this point, I do not see the extraordinary circumstances that I use to determine whether to filibuster a nominee,” Collins said.

Specter, who as a Republican voted against Kagan’s nomination to become solicitor general last year, said that while he thought her credentials are “excellent,” it “doesn’t constitute a commitment on a vote. But she’s a good candidate.”

Brown also declined to commit his support for Kagan, saying that to do so would be “premature.” But following their talk Thursday afternoon, he said she had eased his concerns about her views of the military.

Kagan, then dean of the Harvard Law School, has come under fire for barring military recruiters from campus because of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy banning openly gay people from serving.

But following their discussion, Brown said he did not believe Kagan has a negative view of the military. “It was very clear to me after we spoke about it at length. … And I do not feel her judicial philosophy will be hurting men and women who are serving,” Brown said.

Although she may not have come away from her second day of meetings with Senators with any commitments of support, she and her White House handlers were likely feeling positive. Specter, a Judiciary Committee member, is expected to support her nomination, but Democrats would also like to lock up Collins as well as the six other Republicans who voted to confirm her as solicitor general.

Brown, who has shown his independence in his short time in the Senate, is also viewed as a potential “yes” vote.