Washington, D.C. Democrats and Republicans presented dueling portraits Tuesday of Elena Kagan and the Supreme Court she’s seeking to join at the start of a politically charged debate over her fitness to be a justice, making what amounted to closing arguments before a near-certain confirmation vote by week’s end.
Democrats praised President Barack Obama’s nominee as a highly qualified legal scholar who would add a sorely needed note of fairness and common sense to a court they described as dominated by a conservative majority run amok.
Republicans countered that Kagan is an inexperienced, disingenuous nominee who would abuse her post by bending the law to suit a liberal agenda.
But even her harshest critics acknowledged there was no doubt about the debate’s outcome and the vote expected Thursday.
“I hope I’m wrong about soon-to-be Justice Kagan,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said.
In line to become the fourth woman ever to sit on the court, Kagan is not expected to alter its ideological balance in succeeding retired Justice John Paul Stevens — himself a leader of the Supreme Court’s liberal wing.