Courts - U. S. Supreme Court Confirmation on track, Senate starts Kagan debate Nearly all Democrats, handful of Republicans, support nominee

By Julie Hirshchfeld Davis

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A confirmation vote is all but assured for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan as the Senate begins debate on making her the fourth female justice.

Supporters and opponents were to weigh in during debate starting Tuesday on President Barack Obama's nominee. A vote is expected before week's end. Confirming Kagan, 50, for a lifetime seat on the court is one of the last pieces of business senators will attend to before departing for a monthlong vacation.

Kagan is in line to succeed retired Justice John Paul Stevens and become the fourth woman to sit on the court.

Nearly all Democrats and a handful of GOP senators are expected to vote for Kagan, who has served as the Obama administration's solicitor general.

Most Republicans say the former Harvard Law School dean isn't fit to be a justice because she'd try to mold the law to her liberal political views. They also criticize her lack of experience as a judge or courtroom litigator.

"It is all but certain that, if confirmed, Ms. Kagan will bring to the bench a progressive activist judicial philosophy which holds that unelected judges are empowered to set national policy from the bench," Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, wrote to senators Monday.

Kagan's proponents call her a highly qualified nominee who could help bring consensus to the ideologically polarized court.

Published: Wed, Aug 4, 2010