Elena Kagan was confirmed as the newest Supreme Court justice today, with senators voting 63-37 to approve President Obama’s second nominee to the high court. Her confirmation will put three women on the bench for the first time ever — a statistic that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hailed as “real progress” on the Senate floor before his colleagues took the rare step of casting their votes from their desks.
The Democrats were nearly united in support, with only Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) voting “No.” There were 5 Republicans who voted “Yes,” breaking with the majority of their party.She was approved 13-6 by the Senate Judiciary Committee last month after hearings that were mostly a snoozefest.
Kagan received fewer Republican votes than Obama’s first nominee, Justice Sonia Sotomayor almost exactly one year ago on Aug. 6 by a vote of 68-31. That’s thanks in part to highly competitive elections and a trend of tea party angst challenging, and in some cases unseating, moderate GOPers.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) voted for Kagan today. Last year, nine Republicans backed Sotomayor, as did Nelson.
Sen. Scott Brown announced earlier today he thinks Kagan does not have enough experience having never served on the bench and only working in the courtroom in recent years as the nation’s top lawyer.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered a similar argument, saying Kagan is “not suited to assume a lifetime position on our nation’s highest court.”
Reid (D-NV), by contrast, hailed her as a “brilliant lawyer” coming from “outside the judicial monastery.”
Kagan, 50, will be sworn in to the lifetime position before the court begins its fall term. She replaces retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. It’s widely expected that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a cancer survivor in her late 70s, will be the next to retire.