Washington Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan maneuvered carefully through tough Republican questioning on military recruitment at Harvard Law School, gun owners’ rights and free speech Tuesday, giving little ground to critics and drawing strong praise from Senate Democrats who command the votes to confirm her.
In a long day of questioning at a hearing that stretched into the evening, Kagan came under fire from Sen. Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, for her decision as dean of Harvard Law to bar recruiters from the school’s career services office over the Pentagon’s policy against openly gay soldiers. He said that amounted to “punishing” the military services, treating them in a “second-class way” and creating a hostile environment for the military on campus.
Sessions said he emerged from a heated back-and-forth with Kagan on the issue more “troubled” about her nomination than before.
Still, President Barack Obama’s nominee soldiered through her second day of testimony on Capitol Hill apparently in good shape to win Senate approval — barring a major gaffe — in time to take her seat before the court opens a new term in October. If confirmed, Kagan, 50, would succeed retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.