Elena Kagan, President Obama’s nominee to take the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens’ seat on the Supreme Court, is unlikely to face a filibuster from the Republican Party. However, many Senate republicans have said she will face a myriad of difficult questions before she can be confirmed. Arizona Senator Jon Kyl (R) agreed: “The filibuster should be relegated to the extreme circumstances and I don’t think Elena Kagan represents that.”
Kagan will face questions regarding three main issues. The first is her lack of any judicial experience. She currently serves as the solicitor general, the top government lawyer that argues the administration’s cases before the Supreme Court. She also served as the Dean of Harvard Law, the nation’s most prestigious law school. Her previous employment, while high profile, leave her with very little judicial paper trail compared to candidates that come from the bench and will place a high value on how she testifies before the Senate Judicial Committee.
The second major issue is her stance on the “enemy combatant” label given to terror suspects which is largely unclear. This opinion will be of extreme importance, as more “terrorist” trials will be conducted in the United States in the future.
Finally, her opinions on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the U.S. Army are another major issue. During her tenure as Dean of the Law School, Harvard banned military recruiters from campus over the policy existing. It is also rumored that Kagan called for this policy due to a “deep personal belief” that the ban is wrong.
Nonetheless, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D- Vermont) hopes to have Kagan as a Justice by the summer before a new session begins in October. He believes that this is roughly in line for the timetable followed for Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Sotomayor.