US Senate confirms Kagan as justice

She becomes the third sitting Jewish Supreme Court judge.

Kagan 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Kagan 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
WASHINGTON  — The US Senate confirmed Elena Kagan Thursday as the Supreme Court's 112th justice and fourth woman, selecting a scholar with a reputation for brilliance, a dry sense of humor and a liberal legal bent.
The vote was 63-37 for President Barack Obama's nominee to succeed retired Justice John Paul Stevens.
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Kagan became the third sitting justice who is Jewish, a historic first.
Kagan is not expected to alter the ideological balance of the court, where Stevens was considered a leader of the liberals confronting a usually conservative-leaning court that rules of some of the most divisive issues in American life.
She is the first Supreme Court nominee in nearly 40 years with no experience as a judge, and her swearing-in will mark the first time in history that three women will serve together on the nine-member court, where justices often serve for life.
The two parties clashed over her nomination. Republicans argued that Kagan was a political liberal who would be unable to be impartial. Democrats defended her as a highly qualified legal scholar.
Five Republicans joined all but one Democrat and the Senate's two independents to support Kagan. In a rarely practiced ritual reserved for the most historic votes, senators sat at their desks and stood to cast their votes with "ayes" and "nays."
Kagan watched the vote with her Justice Department colleagues in a conference room, the White House said.
The Anti-Defamation League released a statement congratulating Kagan immediately following the vote.
"We extend our congratulations and best wishes to Solicitor General Elena Kagan on her confirmation as the 112th Supreme Court Justice and the fourth woman to sit on the high court. Ms. Kagan is well qualified and we are confident that she will serve with distinction as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court. We commend the President and the US Senate for choosing and supporting her," said the ADL statement.