Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), one of the Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has released a statement on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court — and it mirrors positive comments he has made about Kagan in the past.
“Solicitor General Kagan has a strong academic background in the law. I have been generally pleased with her job performance as Solicitor General, particularly regarding legal issues related to the War on Terror. I look forward to meeting her again, this time to discuss her qualifications to sit on the highest court in the land,” Graham said in a statement. “As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I intend to be fair and firm in my questioning of the nominee. The hearings can be a valuable public service as they give us a window into the nominee’s judicial philosophy and disposition. I hope we will have a meaningful opportunity to explore the qualifications, judicial temperament, and judicial philosophy of Ms. Kagan.”
Graham has previously talked up Kagan, saying “I like her.” At the same time, though, he also cautioned: “It doesn’t mean I’m going to vote for her.” As the Huffington Post wryly observed at the time, this could have potentially damaged Kagan among liberals — Graham was referring to Kagan’s positions on executive power.
An important question going forward now is the extent to which there will be a push among conservative activists to oppose the nomination, and how many Republicans remain who could support the appointment. Unlike last time, when the Democrats had 60 seats in the Senate, Republicans could now potentially filibuster a nomination since they elected Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) in January.
It should be noted that during the last Supreme Court confirmation, Graham voted to confirm Sonia Sotomayor, along with eight others: Lamar Alexander (TN), Kit Bond (MO), Susan Collins (ME), Judd Gregg (NH), Richard Lugar (IN), Mel Martinez (FL), Olympia Snowe (ME) and George Voinovich (OH). And of course, Scott Brown was not yet in the Senate, so it remains to be seen what approach he might take.