Leahy to set nomination hearing after Kagan completes questionnaire

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) told reporters Wednesday that he would not schedule confirmation hearings on Elena Kagan until she returns a questionnaire to the panel.

Democratic staff said they hope to send a list of questions to the Supreme Court nominee later today. Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Republican on Judiciary, is working with Leahy on the document.

Republicans have argued it would be unfair to set a hearing date before lawmakers know how much information the administration will share from Kagan's tenure as solicitor general and domestic policy adviser during the Clinton presidency.

Kagan has said nothing while walking from meeting to meeting on the Hill, despite persistent questions from the pack of reporters and photographers trailing her.

Leahy expressed full confidence in Kagan after they met but declined to relate details of their discussions.

He said questions about Kagan's judicial philosophy and record of hiring African Americans and other minorities while dean of Harvard Law School would come up at the hearings.

"She said the law matters because it keeps us safe, because it protects our most fundamental freedom and because it is the foundation or our Democracy," said Leahy, who called Kagan's answer "music to my ears."

Leahy noted that Kagan is the first woman to serve as solicitor general of the United States and the first woman to serve as dean of Harvard Law School.

Leahy knocked down criticism that, while Kagan comes from outside the judicial monastery, she would have trouble relating to everyday Americans because of her rarified background in academia and government.

Leahy noted that Kagan's mother was a teacher and her father a lawyer for the disadvantaged.

"I think you develop a lot from when you were a youngster and what type of upbringing you had," Leahy said.