US Senate confirms Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan

Saturday, August 7, 2010

File photo of Elena Kagan
Image: Office of Senator Russ Feingold.
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US Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan has been confirmed by the US Senate by a vote of 63–37 and will be sworn in Saturday by Chief Justice John Roberts as a Supreme Court Associate Justice.

Shortly after the Senate vote, Justice Roberts offered the 50-year-old Kagan "warm congratulations," according to Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg. 56 Democrats, five Republicans, and two Independents voted to confirm Kagan. 35 Republicans and one Democrat voted against her. The Republicans that voted for Kagan were Richard Lugar of Indiana, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of Maine. Democrat Ben Nelson, of Nebraska, voted against Kagan.

"I am confident that Elena Kagan will make an outstanding Supreme Court justice," said US president Barack Obama after Kagan was confirmed. Obama also said that Kagan would have a positive impact on the conservative-majority court because she "understands that the law isn’t just an abstraction or an intellectual exercise" and that "she knows that the Supreme Court’s decisions shape not just the character of our democracy, but the circumstances of our daily lives." Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (Democrat-Vermont) also said that Kagan's confirmation was "long, long overdue."

Kagan is a former dean of the Harvard Law School, a legal adviser during the Clinton administration, and the US Solicitor General in the current Obama administration. She becomes the fourth woman ever to serve on the court and will become the third current female justice, joining Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. Sotomayor was also appointed by Obama and confirmed by the Senate by a 68–31 vote. Kagan replaces retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, who is the leading liberal on the court.