Reaction was predictably immediate and sharply divided after the Senate confirmed Elena Kagan Thursday to be the next justice on the Supreme Court.
Senators approved Kagan, 50, to be the fourth woman on the high court by a vote of 63-37. Five Republicans joined all but one Democrat in voting to send Kagan to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.
For the first time, Kagan will become the third woman to sit on the court concurrently, creating a female bloc of justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.
Kagan joins the Supreme Court with no prior judicial experience but having served as President Obama’s solicitor general.
“General Kagan is a public servant who has remained far above the political fray, and will be the only Justice who comes from outside the judicial monastery. She is a student and teacher of the law who looks up from her books out into the real world,” says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “And she knows that while we are a nation of laws and not of men, the former has a genuine and personal impact on the lives of the latter.
“Because of her intellect and integrity; her reason, restraint and respect for the rule of law; her unimpeachable character and unwavering fidelity to our Constitution, I am proud to cast my vote for her confirmation,” Reid adds in his floor statement.
While Reid and other supporters sang Kagan’s praises, conservatives were quick to paint Kagan as a threat.
Prominent conservative and one-time presidential candidate Gary Bauer says that he worries Kagan will be “agenda-driven judge forcing left-wing ideology into the Constitution.”
Kagan, however, is not expected to significantly tilt the ideological direction of the high court, Stevens had been one of its leading liberals for decades.
“The vast majority of Americans express strong opposition to an increasingly imperial judiciary. Left-wing judges are forcing radical social change on the American people,” Bauer says. “I think the record and the history of Ms. Kagan demonstrates she will be another vote for the radical left agenda rather than Constitutional government. Her career has been entirely political. She has advised presidents on how to manipulate the law for partisan ends and advocated on behalf of the radical gay rights agenda and an expansion of abortion on demand when it was in her power to do so. Her promises to be an unbiased jurist are not credible. I believe that Elena Kagan will be Barack Obama‘s political proxy on the high court.”
The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.