'Kagan did just enough to win my vote'

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), in a USA Today column Wednesday night, accused Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan of "leaving senators to search for clues on her judicial philosophy" in her Judiciary hearings.

Specter wrote that "Kagan did little to move the nomination hearings from the stylized 'farce' (her own word) they have become into a discussion of substantive issues that reveal something of the nominee's judicial philosophy and predilections."

But, Specter wrote, "Kagan did just enough to win my vote by her answers that television would be good for the country and the court, and by identifying Justice Marshall as her role model."

Specter is a longtime supporter of allowing cameras in the high court and gave her high marks for coming out in strong support for the idea during her testimony. 

The senator, however, chided the nominee for offering "no meaningful observations on U.S. vs. Morrison, in which the court overturned the Violence Against Women Act," offering "no substantive comment on Citizens United," avoiding "taking sides in the court's expansion of executive authority, declining comment on the historic clash posed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the president's warrantless wiretapping authorized under the Terrorist Surveillance Program," and refusing "to comment on the court's refusal to resolve a contentious dispute involving the Sovereign Immunity Act and the Obama administration's foreign policy."

Specter’s votes have always been hard to predict, but after bolting the GOP and still losing his primary to Rep. Joe Sestak, some Republicans had been hoping he would want to make a point about her cautious testimony and vote against her.

Specter wrote that Kagan's "hearings showed an impressive legal mind, a ready humor and a collegial temperament suitable to the court," but lamented that they "shed no light" on the myriad issues he brought up.

Most – if not all – Democrats are expected to vote in favor of Kagan’s nomination. Specter is a member of the Judiciary Committee, which will hold a vote on Kagan’s nomination Tuesday after Republicans delayed a planned panel vote earlier this week.

Over the past two weeks several Republicans have announced plans to vote against her confirmation, including Sens. Orrin Hatch (Utah), John McCain (Ariz.), John Cornyn (Texas), David Vitter (La.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska).

This post was updated at 12 a.m.