GOP witnesses rip into Kagan, but confirmation nearly certain
Military members denounce nominee’s actions as law dean
WASHINGTON — As the Senate hearings on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan continued Thursday, both parties summoned witnesses who presented competing portraits of the nominee.
Even though her confirmation appears all but guaranteed, Kagan was subject to scrutiny and praise during the fourth and potentially final day of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. All told, 23 witnesses were summoned to a hearing that stretched into the evening.
Republican witnesses, many from the military, blasted Kagan for not allowing the military to recruit at Harvard Law School when she was the dean because she felt its ban on openly gay people serving was discriminatory.
Democratic witnesses, in turn, stressed the importance of getting Kagan onto the court. Lily Ledbetter, the plaintiff in a high-profile worker pay discrimination case, stressed the importance of having more women on the bench. Ledbetter lost her Supreme Court case against Goodyear by one vote.
The 50-year-old solicitor general was nominated by President Barack Obama to replace the retiring liberal Justice John Paul Stevens.
For 17 hours Tuesday and Wednesday, Kagan was subjected to questions from the judiciary committee about her background, political positions and past decisions.
The committee chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., predicted she’d be confirmed. Republicans, nonetheless, took the opportunity to underscore what they consider to be Kagan’s vulnerabilities.
“Dean Kagan’s actions deem the military not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under Harvard’s table,” retired Air Force Capt. Flagg Youngblood said.
Witnesses for the Democrats included the president of the Harvard Law Armed Forces Association.
Also Thursday, the National Rifle Association attempted to spark interest in Kagan’s defeat by opposing her as someone who “has repeatedly demonstrated a clear hostility to the fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.”
Elena Kagan did not attend her confirmation hearings Thursday.