GOP wit­nesses rip into Ka­gan, but con­fir­ma­tion nearly cer­tain

Mil­i­tary mem­bers de­nounce nom­i­nee’s ac­tions as law dean

Austin American-Statesman - - WORLD & NATION - By Reid Daven­port

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.

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