May 12th, 2010
09:46 AM ET

Kagan to meet with senators amid Republican criticism

As Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan plans to visit Capitol Hill and meet with senators Wednesday, one Republican lawmaker reiterated that he will oppose her nomination, just as he did 15 months ago when she was nominated for her current post as solicitor general.

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, estimated more than half of the Senate has already made up their minds on Kagan - even if they haven't said so publicly.

"They just don't say it," he said. "I say it."

"We went through the confirmation process 15 months ago and nothing has changed since that time,"  he said

Inhofe told CNN the main sticking point for him was Kagan's decision, while dean of Harvard Law School, to block military recruiters from the law school's campus in protest of the Pentagon's policies preventing gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

Other Republicans have also expressed concern about the issue. They include Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who is scheduled to meet with Kagan Wednesday. Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said Kagan "made a big mistake ... Was that disqualifying? I don't know. We'll see. But it's a significant issue."

Inhofe also pointed to Kagan's lack of judicial background, noting it has been 38 years since a justice with no experience on the bench has been confirmed. However, he said that issue was not a "deal killer" for him, although he said that a nominee with prior judicial experience is preferable.

Asked whether Kagan's stance on campus military recruitment was rooted in opposition to the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, and not an indictment on campus recruitment per se, Inhofe said he fails to see a connection. "My concern was, if you're recruiting, you ought to be able to recruit on campuses."

He accused Kagan of flip-flopping on "Don't Ask Don't Tell," pointing out she was an aide to former President Bill Clinton and at one time supported the policy. "She's changed her mind since then, apparently," he said.

Clinton picked her in 1999 for the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. But no Senate confirmation hearings were held, and the nomination lapsed. The seat was later filled by John Roberts, who quickly used the appointment as a springboard to chief justice of the Supreme Court.

Inhofe said if he opposes someone's nomination, he does not change his mind when that person is nominated for a higher position later. "If I believe someone is not qualified for a lower position, like a district level, how could that person be qualified for the United States Supreme Court? I don't think they could. The bar has to go up as you go up the courts."

Asked if there is anything Kagan could say to change his mind, he said that although he is not a member of the committee, "I would watch very carefully - I would say no."

Kagan also plans to meet Wednesday with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada; Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky; Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont; and Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has said.

President Barack Obama nominated Kagan Monday to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. If confirmed, Kagan, 50, would become the 112th Supreme Court justice, the third woman on the current nine-member bench and the fourth woman in the court's history.

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Filed under: Elena Kagan • Gay and lesbian • Politics • Supreme Court
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Michael

    Inhofe is a pathological liar and lodged so deep in the pockets of Big Oil that he hasn't seen daaylight in years.. A chronic denier that burning fossil fuels has any impact on the environment, he would vote against his own mother if she were nominated by Obama.

    May 12, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  2. AmericanD

    This is one of Obama's worst choices yet.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ashlyye

    Too bad Obama doesn't do the right thing and step down–as Gordon Brown has done. It would likely be the best decision he could make–ever.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. plewis1956

    Oh, my stars, a republican doesn't think Kagan is qualified? I am sure that Inhofe admires Clarence Thomas and thinks he is very qualified, even though the man retired as soon as he got his lifetime appointment. The biggest problem with replacing Thomas will be that when he dies it will take several months for the rest of the court to realize that he is gone

    May 12, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. sandman

    Hey Ashlyye, why don't you get a brain? I'm afraid you don't understand the way our government or the UK's work. We elected our president (by a wide margin) and he serves a four-year term. Gordon Brown was never elected by the people and it wasn't really his choice to remain PM since his party is no longer in power. Read up on it, it may be of some interest to you.

    May 12, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. concerned

    Isn't the goal to select the most qualified. Clearly she is not. She needs to come out of her ivory tower and live in the real world not just the academic.

    May 12, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. saladfingerz

    Obummer nominates Neil Sedaka for the supreme court?

    May 12, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Lisa

    I agree with cncerned, but then why, is Obamam President? He lacks the experience too and it shows, much to the chagrin of the "vast majority" who voted for him. Throwing money at everything doesn't solve the root problem. Lies, theivery, greed, lack of regulation, inability to follow through with some of the most important issues facing America...the list goes on and on. So sad.

    May 12, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MAC

    What a bunch of haters and name callers – clearly you did not vote for Pres Obama – clearly it really irritates you that a black man is in office!!! Clearly, Kagan is just if not more qualified than the majority on court – including your darling roberts and thomas.

    May 12, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Phil

    Kagan is more than qualified for the supreme court. It is getting where the Republicans are irrelevant to anything Obama wants to do. Elections MATTER. Elections HAVE CONSEQUENCES. I thought Alito and Roberts were right wing political zealots, but Bush was president and he has a perfect right to nominate whomever and the test was, were they qualified. Both men were confirmed with reasonably good margins, with Dems following that test. Apparently, the only person who is qualified is a Republican, according to republicans and an activist judge is a judge who won't rule in favor of Republican interests. There was no muttering of activism when they swept by with their bag carrying decision that corporations are people and should be able to sink money into elections.

    May 12, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Allen

    I wonder if she'll be wearing flannel under her robe?

    May 13, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. MC10

    Ashlyye, please do the civilized world a favor and never reproduce– ever. At least get your GED before you post.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Cliff

    MC10, when it comes to smarts, Ashlyye passed you a long time ago!

    The Pillsbury Dough Girl is the most recent "flub" by Obama and his carpet riding crew.

    The only thing worse than apointees and nominees by Obama would be the wackos who voted for his sorry posterior!

    May 13, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. beth

    Another pick from Chicago.........

    May 14, 2010 at 7:08 am | Report abuse |
  15. beth

    Obama is going to make our America his way

    May 14, 2010 at 7:09 am | Report abuse |
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