Sigh: Kagan Confirmed by Senate, 63-37

The Senate voted 63-37 Thursday to confirm Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court, replacing retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

Five Republican voted for Kagan’s confirmation: Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).

One Democrat voted against her—Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who sent out a statement last week saying, “I have heard concerns from Nebraskans regarding Ms. Kagan, and her lack of a judicial record makes it difficult for me to discount the concerns raised by Nebraskans, or to reach a level of comfort that these concerns are unfounded.”

Kagan was the first Democratic nominee in over 40 years to have a Democrat vote “no” on confirmation. Gallup said she is the first nominee in recent polling history to pass the Senate with less than half of Americans supporting her nomination.

Before the vote, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, gave a last plea to vote against the nominee, saying that Kagan put personal ideology ahead of her duty as solicitor general and, as dean of Harvard Law School, put political gain ahead of “legal principle.”

“I invited those who support Ms. Kagan’s nomination to refute the record that I have presented,” Sessions said as part of his closing argument against Kagan. “But not one error has been identified by Ms. Kagan’s supporters. So we are left with the same core concern: that Ms. Kagan would ally herself not with the constitutional liberties of all Americans, but with the big-government agenda of the President who nominated her.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he was confident Kagan would use common sense, fairly apply the law, and respect the role of the courts in a democracy, and apply equal protection under the law. 

The pro-life organization Americans United for Life issued the following prediction in a statement after the vote:

“Elena Kagan will emerge as one of the Supreme Court’s most agenda-driven, reliably pro-abortion justices. It is deeply troubling that the Senate voted to confirm Ms. Kagan without fully investigating her role in manipulating medical evidence during the partial-birth abortion debate in 1996-97.”