Capitol Hill Briefing

2 GOP senators praise Kagan after meetings on Hill

By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 13, 2010; 5:10 PM

Returning to Capitol Hill for a second day Thursday, Elena Kagan drew praise from two Republicans who could eventually support her nomination to the Supreme Court: Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Scott Brown (Mass.).

Collins, after an hour-long meeting with Kagan, declared herself "very impressed" and said she saw little reason for the GOP to consider a filibuster. She rejected the complaint by some Republicans that Kagan is not qualified because she has never served as a judge.

"I do not believe her lack of judicial experience in any way disqualifies her," Collins said. She added, "what I was most pleased to hear her say was that she viewed the court as having a limited role."

Brown, after meeting with Kagan, said he was convinced the former Harvard Law School dean was supportive of the U.S. military. He said he and Kagan extensively discussed her support of colleges, including Harvard, that sought years ago to bar military recruiters from campus in protest of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military.

"It was very clear to me after we spoke about it at length that she is supportive of the men and women who are fighting to protect us, and very supportive of the military as a whole," Brown said. "I do not feel that her judicial philosophy will be hurting the men and women who are serving."

Neither Brown nor Collins committed to voting for Kagan, now the U.S. solicitor general. But she is likely to be confirmed simply because of the 59 Democratic-leaning votes in the Senate. Supreme Court nominees are almost never blocked through the use of the filibuster, a tactic the 41 Republicans in the Senate have employed against some Obama administration appointees.

As she did Wednesday, Kagan spent the day on Capitol Hill meeting with senators. Along with the two Republicans, she spoke to five Democrats, including John Kerry (Mass.).

In the sessions, she offered some hints of her judicial views, but little that was groundbreaking. For example, she told Collins she viewed Roe v. Wade as "settled law," the senator said.

The Senate has not set a date for Kagan's confirmation hearings. The Judiciary Committee on Thursday sent her a 10-page questionnaire requesting information on her previous jobs, writings, speeches and her finances.


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