Democrats see a path to GOP support for high court nominee 

In nominating Elena Kagan to replace Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court, President Obama made a selection he knows some Republicans could find hard to reject.

William Galston, senior fellow in governance studies at Brookings Institution, said Kagan's "wide support and respect that she enjoys across ideological lines should contribute to a relatively easy confirmation process."

In fact, seven GOP senators already voted for Kagan in March 2009 when Obama nominated her to become the first female solicitor general.

Obama on Monday began calling this group of Republicans, a list that includes Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of Maine, Judd Gregg, of New Hampshire, Orrin Hatch, of Utah, Dick Lugar, of Indiana and Jon Kyl, of Arizona, who is the Senate minority whip.

Obama also contacted newcomer moderate GOP Sen. Scott Brown, of Massachusetts, to seek his vote for Kagan.

"The president reached out and Sen. Brown told him he would keep an open mind as he reviews her qualifications," Brown spokesman Gail Gitcho told the Washington Examiner.

Kagan is expected to begin calling on senators this week.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee said Kagan's confirmation process would be far more comprehensive than her last vetting before the panel.

"Although the committee is familiar with Ms. Kagan from her previous nomination as solicitor general, a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court is a far more significant position," Sessions said.

Republicans are focused on Kagan's lack of experience as a judge and her limited time as a litigator, which Sessions called "troubling."

Hatch, who in an interview last year called Kagan "a brilliant woman," said his "yes" vote won't necessarily be repeated.

"Her previous confirmation, and my support for her in that position, do not by themselves establish either her qualifications for the Supreme Court or my obligation to support her," Hatch said Monday.

Kyl said on Fox News that he voted for Kagan "for the temporary position of solicitor general, a position that she might hold for a matter of maybe four years at most, that I could overlook her relative lack of experience and lack of knowledge about her background."

Republicans say they plan to use the confirmation process to delve into Kagan's move to block military recruitment on the campus of Harvard University because of the Pentagon's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy when she served as dean of Harvard Law School.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., promised greater scrutiny for Kagan than she received during the nomination process for solicitor general and to determine whether Kagan can serve impartially despite her service in the Obama administration.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, dismissed the criticism that Kagan is inexperienced, saying he was "glad to see somebody from outside the judicial monastery" and expected Kagan would be confirmed "this summer, so she can be sitting on the court when it comes back into session, either in September or October."

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