On May 10, 2010, President Barack Obama announced his selection of Elena Kagan for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. Kagan's nomination was confirmed by a 63–37 vote of the United States Senate on August 5, 2010.
When nominated, Kagan was Solicitor General of the United States, to which she had been appointed by Barack Obama. She had previously been a contender for the retiring David Souter's seat in 2009, but was passed over in favor of current Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Prior to her reported selection as Obama's nominee, Kagan had been appointed as Solicitor General of the United States. In May 2009, she was widely speculated to be a nominee acceptable to fill the seat of retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter. The seat was eventually filled by Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the Second Circuit.
In the Senate, Kagan's nomination was received positively by most Democrats, who praised her abilities and the fact that she came from outside the so-called 'judicial monastery'. Republicans were quicker to express criticism, particularly over her handling of military recruiters during her time as Dean of Harvard Law School, as well as her work as a law clerk for the late Justice Thurgood Marshall, whom many of them deemed a liberal activist.
The deans of over one-third of the country's law schools, 69 people in total, endorsed Elena Kagan's nomination in an open letter in early June. The letter lauded what it considered her coalition-building skills and "understanding of both doctrine and policy" as well as her written record of legal analysis.
The National Rifle Association announced its opposition to Kagan, and stated that it would score the vote on her confirmation, meaning that Senators who vote in favor of Kagan would receive a lower rating from the organization. At the same time, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence announced its support for Kagan's nomination.
Confirmation hearings began on June 28, 2010, the final day of the Court's term. From the 28th through the 30th, Kagan underwent two rounds of questioning by each member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Several witnesses were called to give testimony before the Judiciary Committee at the hearings. These witnesses included Kim Askew and William J. Kayatta, Jr. of the American Bar Association. The Democratic members of the committee called witnesses that included:
Republican members of the committee called the following witnesses:
The Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a recommendation vote for July 20, 2010. On that day the committee voted to endorse Kagan on a 13 to 6 vote, with only one Republican, Lindsey Graham, siding with the nominee.
At the time, it was also possible for a nominee to be filibustered, which would have required 60 votes to overcome (Vice President Joe Biden had no vote in such a case), as occurred during the nomination of Abe Fortas to the Supreme Court in 1968. There were 41 Republican senators at the time of Kagan's confirmation, making a one-party filibuster possible. However, five Republicans—Richard Lugar, Lindsey Graham, Judd Gregg, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins—expressed support for her. In addition, minority whip Jon Kyl said, "The filibuster should be relegated to extreme circumstances, and I don't think Elena Kagan represents that."
In the full Senate, a simple majority is required for confirmation, although up until the 2017 nomination of Neil Gorsuch the Senate rules required 60 votes to file cloture and move to the confirmation vote. The full senate confirmed the nomination on Thursday, August 5, 2010, by a vote of 63-37.
56 of the 57 Senate Democrats voted to confirm Kagan. The only Democrat who rejected the confirmation was Ben Nelson (D-NE). Both of the Senate independents, Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), voted to confirm Kagan. Additionally, five Senate Republicans broke party lines and voted to confirm Kagan; these were Richard Lugar (R-IN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Judd Gregg (R-NH), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
|New Hampshire||Judd Gregg||R||Yea|
|New Hampshire||Jeanne Shaheen||D||Yea|
|New Jersey||Frank Lautenberg||D||Yea|
|New Jersey||Bob Menendez||D||Yea|
|New Mexico||Jeff Bingaman||D||Yea|
|New Mexico||Tom Udall||D||Yea|
|New York||Kirsten Gillibrand||D||Yea|
|New York||Chuck Schumer||D||Yea|
|North Carolina||Richard Burr||R||Nay|
|North Carolina||Kay Hagan||D||Yea|
|North Dakota||Kent Conrad||D||Yea|
|North Dakota||Byron Dorgan||D||Yea|
|Pennsylvania||Bob Casey Jr.||D||Yea|
|Rhode Island||Jack Reed||D||Yea|
|Rhode Island||Sheldon Whitehouse||D||Yea|
|South Carolina||Jim DeMint||R||Nay|
|South Carolina||Lindsey Graham||R||Yea|
|South Dakota||Tim Johnson||D||Yea|
|South Dakota||John Thune||R||Nay|
|Texas||Kay Bailey Hutchison||R||Nay|
|West Virginia||Carte Goodwin||D||Yea|
|West Virginia||Jay Rockefeller||D||Yea|
The President of the United States has the authority to nominate members of the cabinet to the United States Senate for confirmation under Article II, Section II, Clause II of the United States Constitution.
This page documents the nomination and confirmation process for any successful or unsuccessful cabinet nominees of Barack Obama's administration. They are listed in order of creation of the cabinet position (also used as the basis for the United States presidential line of succession).Real Time with Bill Maher (season 8)
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