WASHINGTON (CN) – Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions delayed the confirmation vote for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan on Tuesday, asking Senate Judiciary Committee chair Patrick Leahy to postpone the vote another week. “In my opinion, her testimony lacked the clarity, the strict intellectual honesty that I think we should look for in a nomination to the Supreme Court,” the Alabama senator said.
“Of course, you’re within your rights to make the request and it will be granted,” Leahy replied.
The committee allows any member to request this delay.
Before Sessions asked for another week, Leahy seemed to anticipate the stall.
“I hope that we will not needlessly delay her,” Leahy said at the beginning of the hearing, “as we did not needlessly delay either Chief Justice [John] Roberts or Chief Justice [Samuel] Alito, and especially as I feel and know that every single member of this committee has made up his or her mind whether to vote for or against.”
Leahy pointed out that when Democrats were in the minority in the Senate Judiciary Committee, members agree to vote on Roberts’ nomination seven days after his testimony concluded and 12 days after Alito’s testimony concluded. It has been 14 days since Kagan finished her testimony.
During her three-day confirmation hearing, which began June 28, Kagan fielded more than 540 questions and testified for more than 17 hours. When her testimony concluded June 30, Leahy granted Republicans additional time to submit more than 200 written questions, which Kagan answered last week.
Sessions argued that he had only promised President Obama that he would work to advance the confirmation before the August recess. “We’re well on track to do that,” Sessions said.
“The nominee lacks the experience, the intellectual rigor you develop from full-time practice of law or as from serving as a judge. She’s had neither of those experiences,” said Sessions, the committee’s ranking member.
“Solicitor General Kagan demonstrated an impressive knowledge of the law and fidelity to it,” Leahy said. “She spoke of judicial restraint, her respect for our democratic institutions, and her commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law. She made clear that she will base her approach to deciding cases on the law and the Constitution, not politics or an ideological agenda.”
“I think everybody’s made up their mind,” Leahy said.
The committee will vote on Kagan’s nomination July 20.
If nominated, Kagan will replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens and be the fourth woman to sit on the Supreme Court in history and the third to be serving currently.