Elena Kagan Supreme Court nomination
On May 10, 2010, President Barack Obama announced his selection of Elena Kagan for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. Kagan's nomination was confirmed by a 63-37 vote of the United States Senate on August 5, 2010.
When nominated, Kagan was Solicitor General of the United States, to which she had been appointed by Barack Obama. She had previously been a contender for the retiring David Souter's seat in 2009, but was passed over in favor of current Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Speculation regarding the nomination of Elena Kagan
Prior to her reported selection as Obama's nominee, Kagan had been appointed as Solicitor General of the United States. In May 2009, she was widely speculated to be a nominee acceptable to fill the seat of retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter. The seat was eventually filled by Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the Second Circuit.
Response to Kagan's nomination
In the Senate, Kagan's nomination was received positively by most Democrats, who praised her abilities and the fact that she came from outside the so-called 'judicial monastery'. Republicans were quicker to express criticism, particularly over her handling of military recruiters during her time as Dean of Harvard Law School.
The deans of over one-third of the country's law schools, 69 people in total, endorsed Elena Kagan's nomination in an open letter in early June. The letter lauded what it considered her coalition-building skills and "understanding of both doctrine and policy" as well as her written record of legal analysis.
The National Rifle Association announced its opposition to Kagan, and stated that it would score the vote on her confirmation, meaning that Senators who vote in favor of Kagan would receive a lower rating from the organization. At the same time, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence announced its support for Kagan's nomination.
Future recusal issues
Due to her involvement in a number of key cases it is expected that Kagan may have to recuse herself from 11 of the 24 cases which the court has agreed to hear beginning in October 2010. It is also speculated that Kagan might eventually have to step aside from two to three dozen cases over the next few years. Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee asked that Kagan commit to recusing herself from hearing cases relating to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act enacted in 2010, which Kagan declined to do.
Confirmation hearings began on June 28, 2010, the final day of the Court's term. From the 28th through the 30th, Kagan underwent two rounds of questioning by each member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Several witnesses were called to give testimony before the Judiciary Committee at the hearings. These witnesses included Kim Askew and William J. Kayatta, Jr. of the American Bar Association. The Democratic members of the committee called witnesses that included:
- Professor Robert C. Clark, Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor, Austin Wakeman Scott Professor of Law, and former Dean, Harvard Law School
- Justice Fernande "Nan" Duffly, Associate Justice, Massachusetts Court of Appeals, on behalf of the National Association of Women Judges
- Greg Garre, Partner, Lathan & Watkins, former Solicitor General of the United States
- Jennifer Gibbins, Executive Director, Prince William Soundkeeper
- Professor Jack Goldsmith, Professor of Law, Harvard University
- Marcia Greenberger, Founder and Co-President, National Women's Law Center
- Jack Gross, plaintiff, Gross v. FBL Financial Services Inc.
- Lilly Ledbetter, plaintiff, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire
- Professor Ronald Sullivan, Edward R. Johnston Lecturer on Law, Director of the Criminal Justice Institute, Harvard law School
- Kurt White, President, Harvard Law Armed Forces Association
Republican members of the committee called the following witnesses:
- Robert Alt, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director, Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, The Heritage Foundation
- Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin, United States Army (ret.)
- Capt. Pete Hegseth, Army National Guard
- Commissioner Peter Kirsanow, Benesch Law Firm
- David Kopel, Esq., Research Director, Independence Institute
- Colonel Thomas N. Moe, United States Air Force (ret.)
- David Norcross, Esq., Blank Rome
- William J. Olson, Esq., William J. Olson, P.C.
- Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council
- Stephen Presser, Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History, Northwestern University School of Law
- Ronald Rotunda, The Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence, Chapman University School of Law
- Ed Whelan, President, Ethics and Public Policy Center
- Dr. Charmaine Yoest, President & CEO, Americans United for Life
- Capt. Flagg Youngblood, United States Army
The Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a recommendation vote for July 20, 2010  On that day the committee voted to endorse Kagan on a 13 to 6 vote, with only one Republican, Lindsey Graham, siding with the nominee.
It is also possible for a nominee to be filibustered, which would require 60 votes to overcome (Vice President Joe Biden has no vote in this case), as occurred during the nomination of Abe Fortas to the Supreme Court in 1968. There were 41 Republican senators at the time of Kagan's confirmation, making a one-party filibuster possible. However, five Republicans - Richard Lugar, Lindsey Graham, Judd Gregg, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins - expressed support for her. In addition, minority whip Jon Kyl said "The filibuster should be relegated to extreme circumstances, and I don't think Elena Kagan represents that."
In the full Senate, a simple majority is required for confirmation. With all 100 senators present and voting, 50 votes (plus the tiebreaking vote of the vice president) would have been sufficient to confirm Kagan’s nomination. The full senate confirmed the nomination on Thursday, August 5, 2010, by a vote of 63-37.
( 61–31 )
( 63–37 )
|Hawaii||Akaka, DanielDaniel Akaka||D||Yea||Aye|
|Tennessee||Alexander, LamarLamar Alexander||R||Nay||No|
|Wyoming||Barrasso, JohnJohn Barrasso||R||Nay||No|
|Montana||Baucus, MaxMax Baucus||D||Yea||Aye|
|Indiana||Bayh, EvanEvan Bayh||D||Yea||Aye|
|Alaska||Begich, MarkMark Begich||D||Yea||Aye|
|Colorado||Bennet, MichaelMichael Bennet||D||Yea||Aye|
|Utah||Bennett, RobertRobert Bennett||R||Nay||No|
|New Mexico||Bingaman, JeffJeff Bingaman||D||Yea||Aye|
|Missouri||Bond, KitKit Bond||R||Nay||No|
|California||Boxer, BarbaraBarbara Boxer||D||Not Voting||Aye|
|Ohio||Brown, SherrodSherrod Brown||D||Yea||Aye|
|Massachusetts||Brown, ScottScott Brown||R||(not in Senate)||No|
|Kansas||Brownback, SamSam Brownback||R||Nay||No|
|Kentucky||Bunning, JimJim Bunning||R||Nay||No|
|North Carolina||Burr, RichardRichard Burr||R||Nay||No|
|Illinois||Burris, RolandRoland Burris||D||Yea||Aye|
|West Virginia||Byrd, RobertRobert Byrd||D||Yea||(not in Senate)|
|Washington||Cantwell, MariaMaria Cantwell||D||Yea||Aye|
|Maryland||Cardin, BenBen Cardin||D||Yea||Aye|
|Delaware||Carper, TomTom Carper||D||Yea||Aye|
|Pennsylvania||Casey, Jr., BobBob Casey, Jr.||D||Yea||Aye|
|Georgia||Chambliss, SaxbySaxby Chambliss||R||Nay||No|
|Oklahoma||Coburn, TomTom Coburn||R||Yea||No|
|Mississippi||Cochran, ThadThad Cochran||R||Not Voting||No|
|Maine||Collins, SusanSusan Collins||R||Yea||Aye|
|North Dakota||Conrad, KentKent Conrad||D||Yea||Aye|
|Tennessee||Corker, BobBob Corker||R||Nay||No|
|Texas||Cornyn, JohnJohn Cornyn||R||Nay||No|
|Idaho||Crapo, MikeMike Crapo||R||Nay||No|
|South Carolina||DeMint, JimJim DeMint||R||Nay||No|
|Connecticut||Dodd, ChristopherChristopher Dodd||D||Yea||Aye|
|North Dakota||Dorgan, ByronByron Dorgan||D||Yea||Aye|
|Illinois||Durbin, DickDick Durbin||D||Yea||Aye|
|Nevada||Ensign, JohnJohn Ensign||R||Not Voting||No|
|Wyoming||Enzi, MikeMike Enzi||R||Nay||No|
|Wisconsin||Feingold, RussRuss Feingold||D||Yea||Aye|
|California||Feinstein, DianneDianne Feinstein||D||Yea||Aye|
|Minnesota||Franken, AlAl Franken||D||(not in Senate)||Aye|
|New York||Gillibrand, KirstenKirsten Gillibrand||D||Yea||Aye|
|West Virginia||Goodwin, CarteCarte Goodwin||D||(not in Senate)||Aye|
|South Carolina||Graham, LindseyLindsey Graham||R||Not Voting||Aye|
|Iowa||Grassley, ChuckChuck Grassley||R||Nay||No|
|New Hampshire||Gregg, JuddJudd Gregg||R||Yea||Aye|
|North Carolina||Hagan, KayKay Hagan||D||Yea||Aye|
|Iowa||Harkin, TomTom Harkin||D||Yea||Aye|
|Utah||Hatch, OrrinOrrin Hatch||R||Yea||No|
|Texas||Hutchison, Kay BaileyKay Bailey Hutchison||R||Nay||No|
|Oklahoma||Inhofe, JimJim Inhofe||R||Nay||No|
|Hawaii||Inouye, DanielDaniel Inouye||D||Yea||Aye|
|Georgia||Isakson, JohnnyJohnny Isakson||R||Nay||No|
|Nebraska||Johanns, MikeMike Johanns||R||Nay||No|
|South Dakota||Johnson, TimTim Johnson||D||Yea||Aye|
|Delaware||Kaufman, TedTed Kaufman||D||Yea||Aye|
|Massachusetts||Kennedy, TedTed Kennedy||D||Not Voting||(not in Senate)|
|Massachusetts||Kerry, JohnJohn Kerry||D||Yea||Aye|
|Minnesota||Klobuchar, AmyAmy Klobuchar||D||Not Voting||Aye|
|Wisconsin||Kohl, HerbHerb Kohl||D||Yea||Aye|
|Arizona||Kyl, JonJon Kyl||R||Yea||No|
|Louisiana||Landrieu, MaryMary Landrieu||D||Yea||Aye|
|New Jersey||Lautenberg, FrankFrank Lautenberg||D||Yea||Aye|
|Vermont||Leahy, PatrickPatrick Leahy||D||Yea||Aye|
|Florida||LeMieux, GeorgeGeorge LeMieux||R||(not in Senate)||No|
|Michigan||Levin, CarlCarl Levin||D||Yea||Aye|
|Connecticut||Lieberman, JoeJoe Lieberman||Ind D||Yea||Aye|
|Arkansas||Lincoln, BlancheBlanche Lincoln||D||Yea||Aye|
|Indiana||Lugar, RichardRichard Lugar||R||Yea||Aye|
|Florida||Martinez, MelMel Martinez||R||Nay||(not in Senate)|
|Arizona||McCain, JohnJohn McCain||R||Nay||No|
|Missouri||McCaskill, ClaireClaire McCaskill||D||Yea||Aye|
|Kentucky||McConnell, MitchMitch McConnell||R||Nay||No|
|New Jersey||Menendez, BobBob Menendez||D||Yea||Aye|
|Oregon||Merkley, JeffJeff Merkley||D||Yea||Aye|
|Maryland||Mikulski, BarbaraBarbara Mikulski||D||Yea||Aye|
|Alaska||Murkowski, LisaLisa Murkowski||R||Nay||No|
|Washington||Murray, PattyPatty Murray||D||Not Voting||Aye|
|Nebraska||Nelson, BenBen Nelson||D||Yea||No|
|Florida||Nelson, BillBill Nelson||D||Yea||Aye|
|Arkansas||Pryor, MarkMark Pryor||D||Yea||Aye|
|Rhode Island||Reed, JackJack Reed||D||Yea||Aye|
|Nevada||Reid, HarryHarry Reid||D||Yea||Aye|
|Idaho||Risch, JimJim Risch||R||Nay||No|
|Kansas||Roberts, PatPat Roberts||R||Nay||No|
|West Virginia||Rockefeller, JayJay Rockefeller||D||Yea||Aye|
|Vermont||Sanders, BernieBernie Sanders||Ind||Yea||Aye|
|New York||Schumer, ChuckChuck Schumer||D||Yea||Aye|
|Alabama||Sessions, JeffJeff Sessions||R||Nay||No|
|New Hampshire||Shaheen, JeanneJeanne Shaheen||D||Yea||Aye|
|Alabama||Shelby, RichardRichard Shelby||R||Nay||No|
|Maine||Snowe, OlympiaOlympia Snowe||R||Yea||Aye|
|Pennsylvania||Specter, ArlenArlen Specter||R→D||Nay||Aye|
|Michigan||Stabenow, DebbieDebbie Stabenow||D||Yea||Aye|
|Montana||Tester, JonJon Tester||D||Yea||Aye|
|South Dakota||Thune, JohnJohn Thune||R||Nay||No|
|Colorado||Udall, MarkMark Udall||D||Yea||Aye|
|New Mexico||Udall, TomTom Udall||D||Yea||Aye|
|Louisiana||Vitter, DavidDavid Vitter||R||Nay||No|
|Ohio||Voinovich, GeorgeGeorge Voinovich||R||Nay||No|
|Virginia||Warner, MarkMark Warner||D||Yea||Aye|
|Virginia||Webb, JimJim Webb||D||Yea||Aye|
|Rhode Island||Whitehouse, SheldonSheldon Whitehouse||D||Yea||Aye|
|Mississippi||Wicker, RogerRoger Wicker||R||Nay||No|
|Oregon||Wyden, RonRon Wyden||D||Yea||Aye|
|52 D, 2 ind, 7 R
4 D, 3 R
|56 D, 2 ind, 5 R
1 D, 36 R
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- Greenburg, Jan Crawford (2009-05-07). "White House Formalizes Supreme Court Short List". ABC News.
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- Oliphant, James (2010-08-05). "Elena Kagan appears assured of becoming next Supreme Court justice". Los Angeles Times.
- Solicitor General Elena Kagan Supreme Court Confirmation Process at C-SPAN
- Kagan Faces Confirmation Questioning on Political Leanings, Guns, Military Recruiting, and Abortion - video report by Democracy Now!
- The Nomination of Elena Kagan to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States: Hearing before the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, One Hundred Eleventh Congress, Second Session, June 28-30 and July 1, 2010. Errata