Elena Kagan confirmation hearings begin

President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee faces tough Senate questioning Tuesday, especially from Republicans who want to portray her as inexperienced and too politically liberal to fairly interpret the US Constitution.
Barring unexpected missteps, however, Elena Kagan was expected to win approval of the Democrat-dominated Judiciary Committee and then the full Senate before the top US court opens its next session later this year.
Questioning during the hearing, expected to last until late this week, likely will be particularly detailed because Kagan has never served as a judge and, therefore, has left behind no body of written decisions to reflect her interpretation of the law.
Kagan sits before senators a second time, having already been confirmed as Obama's solicitor general, the chief administration lawyer who argues cases before the Supreme Court. She now is defending her qualifications to sit on the nine-member court to replace Justice John Paul Stevens, a liberal stalwart who has retired.