He warned that if left unchecked, the high court might invalidate a century of legal precedents affirming the power of the national government to “look out for the welfare of the American people.”
“Law matters in people’s lives,” Senator Leahy said. “She understands this.”
“To my mind the president made a wise choice,” Sen. Diane Feinstein (D) of California added.
In preparing for the debate, the Senate Judiciary Committee examined 170,000 pages of documents and questioned the nominee for 18 hours over three days. “What repeatedly emerges from all this is that Elena Kagan is a pragmatist, a problem solver, and a conciliator,” Senator Feinstein said.
Leading the opposition to her confirmation, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) of Alabama said Kagan had been less than candid in her Senate testimony. At times, he said, “her testimony was more consistent with White House spin than the truth.”
Senator Sessions said Kagan has been described as collegial, engaging, and a consensus-builder. But he said the qualities he considered most important for a judge were discipline, restraint, and rigorous intellectual honesty.
“Americans are sick of political spin by politicians, and they don’t want it from judges,” he said.
Kagan is expected to win relatively easy confirmation. So far, five Republicans have announced that they intend to vote for her and one Democrat has said he will vote against her. The final vote is expected Thursday.