GOP Questions Kagan's Experience, Ban

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Republican lawmakers are questioning whether U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan has enough experience to take over retiring Justice John Paul Stevens' seat on the Supreme Court.

"Fulfilling our duty to advise and consent on a nomination to this office requires a thorough process, not a rush to judgment," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told The Associated Press.

President Barack Obama nominated Kagan on Monday for Stevens' seat. If confirmed, she would be the first person in nearly four decades to join the Court without first becoming a judge. Kagan would also become the third woman on the Court.

Many Democrats said that was long overdue. "When Solicitor General Kagan is confirmed, the Supreme Court will have three sitting female justices for the first time," Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) told The AP.

Kagan was also the first woman to serve as Dean of her alma mater, the Harvard Law School. She held the post for six years. During that time, Kagan briefly banned the military from recruiting at a campus facility because openly gay men and women were not allowed in the military, and that policy was in conflict with Harvard's anti-discrimination policy.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) criticized Kagan's ban, saying that she had "placed her own opposition to military policies above the need of our military men and women to receive good legal advice, even from Harvard lawyers," according to The AP.

Confirmation hearings may begin as early as July 4.

For more WQXR coverage on this story, click here.

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