WASHINGTON (CN) – Sixty senators announced that they will support the confirmation of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, assuring her confirmation. Thirty-three have announced that they would vote against her confirmation.
Five Republican senators – Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Richard Lugar of Indiana, and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire – have announced support for Kagan.
Lone Democratic senator from Nebraska Ben Nelson said he will not support Kagan, but promised to vote with Democrats to prevent a Republican filibuster of the confirmation vote. Democrats need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.
The Senate continued its debate over Kagan’s nomination Wednesday, voicing a narrative consistently divided largely along party lines, with Democrats saying Kagan was “superbly qualified” and Republicans saying that she lacked judicial experience and was too partisan.
“This is a political lawyer, an agenda-driven lawyer, someone who has never served as a judge and never really practiced law,” said ranking member of the Judiciary Committee Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who has voiced strong opposition to Kagan’s nomination.
Collins pointed out that the Constitution “does not require that a justice has judicial experience nor even be an attorney,” and said that she found in Kagan “intellectual capacity,” “sweeping knowledge” of the law and a “passion for judicial reasoning.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who has voiced strong support for Kagan said that her limited experience as a practicing judge was an asset.
“Real world experience is helpful to the process,” Leahy said, “because American people live not in an abstract Ivory Tower world but a real world of great challenges. The Supreme Court functions in the real world that affects all Americans,” he said, adding that he has urged seven presidents to select Supreme Court nominees from outside the judicial monastery.
The Senate is expected to vote on the confirmation Thursday.
If confirmed, Kagan would replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens and become the fourth female justice to ever sit on the Supreme Court.