Elena Kagan Supreme Court nomination

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Elena Kagan with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in the East Room of the White House, May 10, 2010.

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, a position to which Obama had appointed her to in March 2009. That same year, the president considered her for nomination to the Court to succeed retiring Associate Justice David Souter, but passed over her in favor of Sonia Sotomayor.

Speculation regarding the nomination of Elena Kagan[edit]

President Barack Obama nominates Kagan to the Supreme Court (14 min 6 secs)

On April 9, 2010, Justice John Paul Stevens announced he would retire at the start of the Court's summer 2010 recess, triggering new speculation about potential replacements, and Kagan was considered a contender.[1] One year earlier, she had been on President Barack Obama's short-list of potential candidates to succeed retiring Associate Justice David Souter, but was passed over in favor of Sonia Sotomayor.[2] In a Fresh Dialogues interview, Jeffrey Toobin, a Supreme Court analyst and Kagan's friend and law school classmate,[3] speculated that she would be Obama's nominee, describing her as "very much an Obama-type person, a moderate Democrat, a consensus builder".[4]

Response to Kagan's nomination[edit]

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'[according to whom?]. Republicans were quick to express criticism, particularly over her handling of military recruiters during her time as Dean of Harvard Law School, as well as her work as a law clerk for the late Justice Thurgood Marshall, whom many of them deemed a liberal activist.[5] Even so, a few expressed support for her, including Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins and Richard Lugar.[6] Additionally, minority whip Jon Kyl all but ruled out using a filibuster to block a final Senate floor vote on the nomination, telling CBS's Face the Nation, "The filibuster should be relegated to extreme circumstances, and I don't think Elena Kagan represents that."[7]

Activist Michael Johns and tea party members demonstrate against Kagan on July 1, 2010.

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.[8]

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.[9] At the same time, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence announced its support for Kagan's nomination.[10]

Confirmation hearings[edit]

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy swears in Kagan during her first day of testimony.

Confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee began on June 28, 2010.[11] From the 28th through the 30th, Kagan underwent two rounds of questioning by each member of the committee.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid meeting with Kagan.
Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy meeting with Kagan.

Several witnesses were called to give testimony before the Judiciary Committee at the hearings.[12] These witnesses included Kim Askew and William J. Kayatta, Jr. of the American Bar Association.[12] The Democratic members of the committee called witnesses that included:[12]

Republican members of the committee called the following witnesses:[12]

  • 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 Guar* 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

Senate votes[edit]


President Obama signing Kagan's commission after Senate confirmation.

After the completion of testimony, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee successfully delayed a vote on forwarding the nomination to the full Senate for one week.[13] On July 20, the committee voted 13–6 to endorse and forward the nomination, with only one Republican, Lindsey Graham, voting in the affirmative.[14]

Full Senate[edit]

The Senate confirmed Elena Kagan to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court on August 5, 2010, by a vote of 63–37. All Democrats, except for Ben Nelson, voted for her, as did Independents Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders, and five Republicans: Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, Judd Gregg, Richard Lugar and Olympia Snowe.[15][16]

Vote to confirm the Kagan nomination
August 5, 2010 Party Total votes
Democratic Republican Independent
Yea 56 05 02 63
Nay 01 36 00 37
Roll call vote on the nomination
Senator Party State Vote
Daniel Akaka D Hawaii Yea
Lamar Alexander R Tennessee Nay
John Barrasso R Wyoming Nay
Max Baucus D Montana Yea
Evan Bayh D Indiana Yea
Mark Begich D Alaska Yea
Michael Bennet D Colorado Yea
Bob Bennett R Utah Nay
Jeff Bingaman D New Mexico Yea
Kit Bond R Missouri Nay
Barbara Boxer D California Yea
Scott Brown R Massachusetts Nay
Sherrod Brown D Ohio Yea
Sam Brownback R Kansas Nay
Jim Bunning R Kentucky Nay
Richard Burr R North Carolina Nay
Roland Burris D Illinois Yea
Maria Cantwell D Washington Yea
Ben Cardin D Maryland Yea
Tom Carper D Delaware Yea
Bob Casey Jr. D Pennsylvania Yea
Saxby Chambliss R Georgia Nay
Tom Coburn R Oklahoma Nay
Thad Cochran R Mississippi Nay
Susan Collins R Maine Yea
Kent Conrad D North Dakota Yea
Bob Corker R Tennessee Nay
John Cornyn R Texas Nay
Mike Crapo R Idaho Nay
Jim DeMint R South Carolina Nay
Chris Dodd D Connecticut Yea
Byron Dorgan D North Dakota Yea
Dick Durbin D Illinois Yea
John Ensign R Nevada Nay
Mike Enzi R Wyoming Nay
Russ Feingold D Wisconsin Yea
Dianne Feinstein D California Yea
Al Franken D Minnesota Yea
Kirsten Gillibrand D New York Yea
Carte Goodwin D West Virginia Yea
Lindsey Graham R South Carolina Yea
Chuck Grassley R Iowa Nay
Judd Gregg R New Hampshire Yea
Kay Hagan D North Carolina Yea
Tom Harkin D Iowa Yea
Orrin Hatch R Utah Nay
Kay Bailey Hutchison R Texas Nay
Jim Inhofe R Oklahoma Nay
Daniel Inouye D Hawaii Yea
Johnny Isakson R Georgia Nay
Mike Johanns R Nebraska nay
Tim Johnson D South Dakota Yea
Ted Kaufman D Delaware Yea
John Kerry D Massachusetts Yea
Amy Klobuchar D Minnesota Yea
Herb Kohl D Wisconsin Yea
Jon Kyl R Arizona Nay
Mary Landrieu D Louisiana Yea
Frank Lautenberg D New Jersey Yea
Patrick Leahy D Vermont Yea
George LeMieux R Florida Nay
Joe Lieberman I Connecticut Yea
Blanche Lincoln D Arkansas Yea
Carl Levin D Michigan Yea
Richard Lugar R Indiana Yea
John McCain R Arizona Nay
Claire McCaskill D Missouri Yea
Mitch McConnell R Kentucky Nay
Bob Menendez D New Jersey Yea
Jeff Merkley D Oregon Yea
Barbara Mikulski D Maryland Yea
Lisa Murkowski R Alaska Nay
Patty Murray D Washington Yea
Ben Nelson D Nebraska Nay
Bill Nelson D Florida Yea
Mark Pryor D Arkansas Yea
Jack Reed D Rhode Island Yea
Harry Reid D Nevada Yea
Jim Risch R Idaho Nay
Pat Roberts R Kansas Nay
Jay Rockefeller D West Virginia Yea
Bernie Sanders I Vermont Yea
Chuck Schumer D New York Yea
Jeff Sessions R Alabama Nay
Jeanne Shaheen D New Hampshire Yea
Richard Shelby R Alabama Nay
Olympia Snowe R Maine Yea
Arlen Specter D Pennsylvania Yea
Debbie Stabenow D Michigan Yea
Jon Tester D Montana Yea
John Thune R South Dakota Nay
Mark Udall D Colorado Yea
Tom Udall D New Mexico Yea
David Vitter R Louisiana Nay
George Voinovich R Ohio Nay
Mark Warner D Virginia Yea
Jim Webb D Virginia Yea
Sheldon Whitehouse D Rhode Island Yea
Roger Wicker R Mississippi Nay
Ron Wyden D Oregon Yea
Source: [17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Retirement Of Justice John Paul Stevens". npr.org. Archived from the original on December 17, 2018. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  2. ^ Greenburg, Jan Crawford (2009-05-07). "White House Formalizes Supreme Court Short List". ABC News.
  3. ^ Rothstein, Betsy (May 10, 2010) NBC Breaks Kagan News When Toobin Could Have Called Archived May 14, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Mediabistro.com
  4. ^ Fresh Dialogues Interview Series with Alison van Diggelen on YouTube, April 9, 2010.
  5. ^ "Kagan Quizzed About Thurgood Marshall's Record". NPR. June 29, 2010.
  6. ^ "Some in GOP backing Kagan". The Boston Globe. June 2, 2010. Archived from the original on October 26, 2012. Retrieved June 1, 2019.
  7. ^ Marr, Kendra (May 16, 2010). "Kyl: GOP won't filibuster Kagan". Politico. Retrieved June 1, 2019.
  8. ^ Goldstein, Amy (2010-06-15). "69 law school deans endorse Kagan in letter to Senate". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2010-07-01.
  9. ^ James Oliphant, NRA opposes Kagan confirmation, L.A. Times (July 2, 2010).
  10. ^ Kane, Paul; Goldstein, Amy (2010-07-01). "Kagan expected to be confirmed to Supreme Court with little Republican support". Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  11. ^ Dann, Carrie (June 28, 2010). "Live-blogging the Kagan hearing". MSNBC. Archived from the original on June 30, 2010. Retrieved June 28, 2010.
  12. ^ a b c d "Kagan hearings witness list released". The Washington Post.
  13. ^ Crabtree, Susan (July 13, 2010). "Republicans force one-week delay in Judiciary panel's Kagan vote". The Hill. Retrieved June 1, 2019.
  14. ^ "Judiciary Committee approves Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court, sending nomination to Senate". Fox News. Associated Press. July 20, 2010. Retrieved June 1, 2019.
  15. ^ Crabtree, Susan; Rushing, J. Taylor (August 6, 2010). "Kagan confirmed to Supreme Court". The Hill. Retrieved June 1, 2019.
  16. ^ Dwyer, Devin; Jaffe, Jeff (August 5, 2010). "Senate Confirms Elena Kagan to Supreme Court". ABC News. Retrieved June 1, 2019.
  17. ^ "Roll Call Vote 111th Congress – 2nd Session (vote number 229)". senate.gov. August 5, 2010. Retrieved June 1, 2019.

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