Judiciary panel head Leahy seeks summer confirmation for Kagan

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said Monday he hopes to confirm Elena Kagan as the next Supreme Court justice this summer.

Leahy set no timetable for Judiciary hearings on President Barack Obama's pick to join the high court, though Leahy expressed confidence that Kagan would be confirmed before the court comes back into session this fall.

"Obviously, we'll finish it this summer so she can be sitting on the court when it comes back into session, either in September or October,," Leahy said in a press conference in reaction to Obama's nomination of Kagan to succeed the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

Leahy expressed positive sentiments toward Kagan on Monday, particularly highlighting the fact that the current solicitor general has not served as a judge before, unlike most current members of the Supreme Court.

"I'm glad to see someone from outside the judicial monastery," he said.

Republicans have expressed more skepticism toward Kagan's nomination, with Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) vowing a "thorough process, not a rush to judgment" on the nomination.

When Obama last nominated a Supreme Court justice, Sonia Sotomayor, last year, the Judiciary committee began confirmation hearings on July 13th. The Senate voted to confirm Sotomayor as a justice on August 9th.


"Applying the same standard to this nomination, the Senate should confirm Ms. Kagan before the August recess," Leahy said in a separate statement on the nomination.

Leahy urged Republicans to be supportive of Kagan's nomination, pointing to the handful who'd supported her nomination as solicitor general, the nation's top attorney.

"Vote up, vote down. She will be confirmed," he said.

"We're given terms as senators where we're supposed to be the conscience of the nation," Leahy later added. "If people want to play politics with this, they're not really fulfilling the duties they're given as a senator."

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