After having supported the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) has decided not to support President Obama’s second SCOTUS pick, Solicitor General Elena Kagan. Last night, in response to questions from TPMDC, he explained his differing decisions.
“[She’s] just not been able to give people comfort,” Nelson said. “The calls have been running — there’s a constituency not to vote for her. There’s not a strong constituency to vote for her.”
By contrast, Sotomayor “had constituencies. First of all she had a record as an appellate judge, and there are people who supported her very strongly, and it was entirely different there than it is now.”
In Nebraska, Nelson said, “some have raised concerns about the Second Amendment. Some have raised concerns about her lack of a judicial background or record. While that’s not a disqualifier for me, it does make it more difficult to explain how somebody’s going to rule from the bench if you don’t have a record of how they have been ruling.”
The Senate will begin debate today on Kagan’s nomination, with a full vote of the Senate expected before they adjourn for August recess at the end of the week. Republican Senators Olympia Snowe (ME), Susan Collins (ME), Judd Gregg (NH), Richard Lugar (IN) and Lindsey Graham (SC) have already announced that they intend to vote in favor of Kagan’s confirmation.
Late update: Last month, a Republican poll found Kagan had only 33 percent support in Nebraska, with 48 opposed to her confirmation.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.