Senate Panel Votes On Kagan Tuesday; McConnell Won't Rule Out Filibuster

The Senate Judiciary Committee votes Tuesday on the nomination of Elena Kagan to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, a vote that is assured of passing.  GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, hasn't ruled out a filibuster.

Elena Kagan's nomination to be an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court reaches the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow, where there is no uncertainty.  Democrats have a 12-7 majority on the committee, and all 12 Democrats say they will vote in favor.  The only suspense, if you can call it that, is whether South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham will vote yes.  Roll Call's John Stanton reports that a yes vote by Graham is "expected."

The other six Republicans are likely to vote no.

If that occurs, it will mirror the committee vote last year for President Obama's first Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor.

Stanton also writes that Kagan's timing has been "lucky":

She spent weeks making the rounds on Capitol Hill — a process that typically involves dozens of reporters and camera crews chasing the nominee from office to office — while the nation was focused on the Gulf Coast oil spill. Then, when her hearings began, they were again upstaged, first by the confirmation of Gen. David Petraeus to head the war in Afghanistan and then by the death of Sen. Robert Byrd.

But while there has been "little drama" thus far, not everyone is conceding her confirmation.

Randall Terry, the anti-abortion activist, was among those protesting Kagan's nomination outside of Sen. Mitch McConnell's office in Louisville this morning, calling on the Republican leader to lead a filibuster against her.  Joseph Gerth in the Louisville Courier-Journal quotes Terry as saying, "The right thing to do in this situation is to hold Mitch McConnell accountable."

McConnell has said he plans to vote no on Kagan's nomination, and while he has refused to rule out a filibuster, he called such a move unlikely.

McConnell spokesman Robert Steurer was more cautious:

"Ms. Kagan's nomination is still in the Judiciary Committee, and there are still outstanding questions for her," he said in a statement. "So it is premature at this point to make a decision on how her nomination will proceed on the Senate floor."

Terry's reaction?  He "called McConnell 'a spineless chicken' for not leading a filibuster against Kagan."

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