Kagan’s Haven?

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Here’s a wrap up of the first day of questioning in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing to confirm Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Kagan has been pretty successful in her charm offensive – disarming her would-be opponents with her quick wit and sense of humor (see above for and ABC mash up of some funny moment). Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, went so far as to call Kagan a “justice-to-be” this morning.

Somehow, though, that charm was lost of Senator Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Democrat. This morning, frustrated by her evasive answers, Specter threatened not to vote for Kagan.

It would be my hope that we could find someplace between voting no and having some sort of substantive answers. But I don’t know that it would be useful to pursue these questions any further. But I think we are searching for a way how senators can succeed in getting substantive answers, as you advocated in the Chicago Law Review, short of voting no.

Specter, who lost his primary this spring, loses nothing by breaking ranks with the majority in opposing Kagan. And he did vote against her confirmation to be Solicitor General. Unless she’s filibustered, Kagan won’t need Specter’s vote – though it would drop her expected vote tally down to 64 votes. On the other hand, given her love fest with South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham yesterday, she may pick up a Republican vote.

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