Judiciary expected to approve Kagan for Supreme Court

The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to approve Elena Kagan’s confirmation to the Supreme Court on Tuesday over minimal Republican support.
The only intrigue surrounding the vote is whether Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamThe Hill's 12:30 Report Graham: Trump would make mistake in not punishing Russia Graham to vote for Trump’s EPA pick MORE (R-S.C.) will break ranks with his six fellow Republicans and vote yes along with all 12 Democrats on the panel.

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Republicans predict President Obama’s second nominee to the court will gain only a handful of GOP votes on the floor. She needs only one to secure her confirmation.

From the moment Kagan was nominated, court watchers and scholars have predicted no major roadblocks to her confirmation even as Republicans voiced deep concerns about her lack of judicial experience and record of limiting access for military recruiters while dean of Harvard Law School.

A Gallup poll conducted July 8-11 found that just 44 percent of those polled would like to see Kagan confirmed by the Senate, down from 46 percent of those questioned shortly after President Obama announced her nomination.

That’s the lowest amount of support any successful nominee has had before his or her confirmation vote in recent years, according to Gallup.

Sonia Sotomayor, for example, managed to attract 55 percent of those polled, while Samuel Alito garnered 54 percent and John Roberts won the support of 60 percent. Before President George W. Bush withdrew his choice of Harriet Miers, she had just 42 percent support, while Robert Bork, President Reagan’s pick, attracted 38 percent before the Senate voted down his nomination.

Even though Kagan was given high marks for her knowledge of case law as well as her calm and often humorous responses, the tough Republican opposition to her, led by Sen. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsThe new Washington elite schmoozes over lunch Justice requires higher standard than Sessions Cory Booker: It's now time to fight MORE (R-Ala.), may have taken a toll.

“People finding out that she’s never been a judge and all the details about her treatment of military recruiters … that probably hurt her,” said Russell Wheeling, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution who studies the selection of U.S. judges and how courts function.

In a tough election year when the Tea Party’s influence has already contributed to the defeat of veteran Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) in a primary, the strong GOP opposition to Kagan comes as no surprise. Sotomayor was confirmed on a 68-31 margin last year, with nine Republicans voting in favor of her: Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderCheney calls for DeVos to be confirmed ‘promptly’ With Trump pick Tom Price, cool heads can prevail on health reform Senate to vote Friday on Trump's defense picks MORE (Tenn.), Kit Bond (Mo.), Susan CollinsSusan CollinsGOP rep faces testy crowd at constituent meeting over ObamaCare DeVos vows to be advocate for 'great' public schools GOP senators introducing ObamaCare replacement Monday MORE (Maine), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Judd Gregg (N.H.), Richard Lugar (Ind.), Mel Martinez (Fla.), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and George Voinovich (Ohio).

Seven Republicans voted in favor of Kagan’s confirmation as solicitor general last year: Tom CoburnTom CoburnCoburn: Trump's tweets aren't presidential The road ahead for America’s highways Rethinking taxation MORE (Okla.), Collins, Gregg, Orrin HatchOrrin HatchOvernight Defense: Senate to vote on defense picks Friday | 41 detainees left at Gitmo | North Korea may be prepping missile launch Congressional leaders unite to protect consumers Mnuchin weathers stormy confirmation hearing MORE (Utah), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Lugar and Snowe. (Graham missed the Kagan vote.)

Of those seven, Coburn and Hatch already have announced that they will vote no, and Coburn predicted Kagan would receive only two or three GOP votes.