Senate backs Kagan's Supreme Court nomination

Panel voted 13-6 to recommend potential third female justice.

Elena Kagan sign 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Elena Kagan sign 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
WASHINGTON – US Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan cleared a major hurdle on Tuesday, as the Senate Judiciary Committee overwhelmingly backed her nomination.
The Senate panel voted 13-6 to recommend her to the court, with a full Senate vote anticipated next week, before Congress’s summer recess.
RELATED:Kagan faces partisan Senate questioningKagan attacked for idolizing Judge BarakRiskin: Kagan showed great wisdom in her youth
Kagan is expected to be confirmed by the full body. If so, she would become the third sitting justice who is Jewish, a historic first.
Just one of the committee’s Republicans, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), joined Democrats to vote in favor of Kagan on Tuesday.
“What’s in Elena Kagan’s heart is that of a good person who adopts a philosophy I disagree with,” Graham said.
“She will serve this nation honorably, and it would not have been someone I would have chosen, but the person who did choose, President Obama, I think chose wisely.”
During the confirmation hearings, Graham prompted one of Kagan’s more memorable references to her Jewish faith, asking her what she had been doing on Christmas this past year in connection with the failed airline bombing attempt.
“Like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant,” she responded to much laughter.
A few additional Republicans are likely to back Kagan in the full Senate, but most oppose her, arguing that she would put her political views ahead of the law. They point to what they call her liberal agenda and her views on such issues as abortion and gun rights.
Democrats, however, defended Kagan, 50, who has served until now as the Obama administration’s solicitor-general.
Kagan would be the third sitting female justice, another first, and has been praised by supporters for bridging ideological divides.
“It becomes more and more apparent that we need a return to the center and a justice who will urge moderation and who will push for consensus. Elena Kagan’s record gives me confidence that she could be just such a voice,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California).