Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is likely to receive a safe
confirmation vote of 63 or 64 Senate votes to cement her appointment, a
legal expert told The Hill on Thursday.
Thomas Goldstein, co-founder of the SCOTUSblog and a well-known Supreme Court litigant at Akin Gump, said Kagan’s relatively moderate background and trouble-free nomination so far bodes well for her ultimate confirmation vote. However, with November elections looming and because Kagan isn’t a minority nominee as was 2009 nominee Sonia Sotomayor, Goldstein predicted Kagan will likely receive fewer votes.
“We’re looking at rather than 68 votes, which is what Sonia Sotomayor got, probably 63, 64,” said Goldstein, who also teaches Supreme Court classes at Harvard and Stanford law schools.
Goldstein said Kagan faces little real risk, with 59 Democratic votes “locked up” and top Republicans dismissive of a filibuster. Yet, ironically, given Kagan’s moderation compared to the more liberal politics of the retiring justice she is replacing, John Paul Stevens, Goldstein said the ultimate effect would be to tilt the court rightward. Stevens was also a well-known authority figure on the court.
“It’s like losing a committee chair, or something like that. You step back in that way,” Goldstein said. “So just by way of who’s leaving rather than who’s coming in, the court gets a little bit more conservative.”