Sen. Arlen Specter said Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan was “very forthcoming” and showed appropriate deference to Congress during a meeting Tuesday.
Specter (D-Pa.) also said Kagan was “enthusiastic” about televised court proceedings, a longtime pet issue of the former Judiciary Committee chairman.
“She was very forthcoming in our discussion,” Specter said. “We talked about the Citizens United case and she said she thought the court was not sufficiently deferential to Congress.
“The issue of deference to Congress on fact-finding matters is something which I consider very important."
Specter voted against Kagan’s nomination to become solicitor general last year because she revealed little of her view on several cases. One case involved the power of foreign policy concerns to pre-empt the insurance claims of Holocaust survivors. Another involved the power of the victims of the 9/11 attacks to sue Saudi princes who funded charities linked to al Qaeda.
“It is difficult to cast a negative vote on someone with the qualifications and background of Dean Kagan, but we have a major problem of institutional standing to find out from a nominee what the nominee thinks on important questions,” Specter said before voting against Kagan last year.
Specter said he thought Kagan would be more responsive to his concerns after meeting with her.
“I thought it was a very good meeting, and she was very forthcoming,” Specter said. “She’s a good candidate. It doesn’t constitute a commitment on the vote, but she’s a good candidate.”
Kagan told Specter that one of the recently appointed justices on the court was evasive during Senate confirmation hearings and promised to give direct answers. Specter declined to name the justice they discussed.
Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), Specter’s opponent in Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary, has attacked the senior lawmaker for voting against Kagan last year.
Specter defended his vote, which he cast while still a member of the Republican Party, and his deliberation over whether to now support her Supreme Court bid.
“Every move I make, he’s trying to politicize,” Specter said of his opponent. “He might want to rush to judgment and make a decision before a hearing, before knowing what the facts were, but I take these things very seriously.”
Specter downplayed how much of an issue Kagan would be in Tuesday’s primary.
“There are so many things that are putting me in a tough position politically that I wouldn’t say that it even gets on the scoreboard,” Specter said.