Kagan Nomination Hearings

While it has generated little controversy, the nomination of Elena Kagan for the U.S. Supreme Court will splash its way into the headlines this week, as President Obama’s pick will get the once over from the Senate Judiciary Committee.

While the Supreme Court nomination hearings of Elena Kagan will dominate the headlines today, barring some kind of unexpected error or surprise, most analysts expect her to be confirmed by the Senate later this Summer.

But that certainly doesn’t mean Republicans are going to roll over, as they have repeatedly signaled in recent weeks that they plan to aggressively question her about her past jobs, which do not include any time on the bench.

“The truth is her legal record is thin,” says Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who is the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“She has never been a judge and has very limited experience even in the practice of law,” Sessions added.

There is no requirement that a Supreme Court Justice have previous experience on the bench before joining the High Court.

You don’t have to go too far back to find such an example, as President Nixon chose both Lewis Powell and William Rehnquist for the Supreme Court – neither of them had been a judge before.

Rehnquist went on to be Chief Justice.  Another Chief Justice, Earl Warren, had also never been a judge before when he was chosen by President Eisenhower.

To be fair, most Presidents in recent times have been choosing Justices from the Circuit Court of Appeals, which has become sort of a minor leagues for the Supreme Court.

Kagan will break that mold with her elevation.

If she is confirmed, Kagan would be the fourth female Justice, with three of them serving together.

Her previous jobs include begin Dean of the Harvard Law School.  She also worked in the White House Counsel’s office for President Clinton and has been a law school professor.

“This nominee has less real legal experience than any nominee confirmed to the Court in the last 50 years,” Sessions added.

So far, rightly or wrongly, nothing that Republicans have thrown at Kagan has stuck in any way.  But that can always change in a heartbeat.

Today we get opening statements from Senators and Kagan, who will be introduced by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA).

Kagan will start answering questions on Tuesday.