Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan will begin meeting with members of the Senate tomorrow, an informal first step in her confirmation process. But many lawmakers are not waiting until tomorrow to comment about the nominee – particularly the seven senate Republicans who voted to confirm Kagan as solicitor general.
Seven Republicans voted in favor of Kagan’s bid to be the administration’s top lawyer last year: Senate Judiciary Committee members Sens. Orrin Hatch, Jon Kyl and Tom Coburn, and fellow Sens. Susan Collins, Judd Gregg, Richard Lugar, and Olympia Snowe.
By the time President Obama had introduced his nominee yesterday morning, Hatch had issued a statement that seemed to dismiss the praise of Kagan based on her professional background. “Any Supreme Court nominee should have an impressive resumé,” said Hatch.
Don’t read too much into his solicitor general vote either, Hatch said. “Her previous confirmation, and my support for her in that position, do not by themselves establish either her qualifications for the Supreme Court or my obligation to support her,” Hatch said.
Coburn promised to keep “an open mind” on Kagan as senators vet her. But he also distinguished his previous vote. “This is a totally different deal,” Coburn said. “Nobody should take that to mean I think she’s acceptable for the Supreme Court … . They’re not comparable positions. This is a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land.”
Kyl echoed the sentiment. “As I made clear when I supported her confirmation as Solicitor General, a temporary political appointment is far different than a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court,” Kyl said.
Lugar also said his vote to confirm Kagan as solicitor general is not an indication of how he will vote on her nomination to the high court.
Collins remained noncommittal in her statement. “Ms. Kagan has an impressive resume of dedicated public service and strong legal credentials but she does not have extensive writings by which one can assess her judicial philosophy,” Collins said. “In the coming weeks, I will closely examine her record as U.S. Solicitor General. I will also follow the Judiciary Committee hearings so that I can better assess how she might approach issues as a judge.”
Snowe took the same approach. “I look forward to learning more about her experience and expertise, and to meeting with her to discuss a variety of issues, including how she would characterize her judicial philosophy,” Snowe said.
Gregg didn’t mention his previous vote in favor of Kagan at all. “I congratulate Solicitor General Elena Kagan on being nominated to the United States Supreme Court and look forward to carefully reviewing her record and qualifications for this position,” Gregg said.