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Republicans go on Kagan offensive early

In the early opening statements from members of the Senate Judicial Committee in the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, Republicans gave a preview of some of questions they will put to the nominee tomorrow – and made much of a 1995 law review article Kagan penned lamenting the fact that nominees rarely gave candid answers about their views.

“I believe you’ll hear a lot of your remarks in the law review article,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said at one point in the hearing.

Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., questioned whether President Barack Obama nominated Kagan because “he wants justices who will use the bench to advance progressive goals.”

Kyl said he was “deeply troubled” by Kagan’s solicitor general’s brief urging the Court to take up and overturn Arizona’s immigration law which targets businesses that hire undocumented workers by revoking their business license. The Court agreed to take the case up that case, U.S. Chamber of Commerce v. Candelaria, earlier in the day.

“I think there are legitimate questions as to whether the brief authorized by General Kagan, which flies in the face of the language of the law, was motivated by political” forces in the White House and Justice Department, Kyl said.

Others criticized Kagan’s lack of judicial experience.

“Miss Kagan has never tried a case before a jury,” said committee Ranking Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, of Alabama. “She argued her first appellate case just nine months ago.”

Some Democrats came to Kagan’s aid. “I believe you are imminently confirmable, said Sen Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Others, however, also noted the difficulty of vetting a candidate without a judicial paper record. “Your judicial philosophy is almost invisible to us,” said Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis.

Sen. Charles Schumer disagreed, saying lawmakers have plenty of information to vet the candidate – everything “but her kindergarten report card.”

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