The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has approved the nomination of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court by a vote of 13-6, after two hours of further debate. The full Senate will now have to take up the task of confirming Kagan, President Obama’s choice to succeed the retiring Associate Justice John Paul Stevens.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) broke ranks with fellow Republicans on the committee to cast the only GOP vote in favor of Kagan. Graham had sent signals that he would support Kagan, despite her leftist ideological leanings. Committee Democrats were unanimous in their support.
“What’s in Elena Kagan’s heart is that of a good person who adopts a philosophy I disagree with,” Graham said. However, he said that Kagan showed him she was “qualified” to fill the vacancy on the court.
“She will serve this nation honorably, and it would not have been someone I would have chosen, but the person who did choose, President Obama, I think chose wisely,” said Graham.
However, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) disagreed, and said to his colleagues that Kagan’s judicial philosophy was a serious issue, because it would inform how she interprets and respects the laws and Constitution of the United States.
“She has deeply held liberal, progressive views,” said Sessions, explaining that Kagan’s record revealed an individual who would not be objective, “but someone who would use the opportunity to redefine words to advance an agenda that’s not in the court’s role to advance.”
Kagan’s nomination has been opposed by pro-life advocates, who have expressed serious concern about revelations that Kagan is believed to have tampered with medical testimony in 1997 from the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (ACOG) on partial-birth abortion.
The latest voice urging senators to oppose Kagan on that basis came yesterday from C. Everett Koop, President Ronald Reagan’s surgeon general, who blasted Kagan in an open letter to senators and the American people for her willingness “to replace a medical statement with a political statement that was not supported by any existing medical data.”
Koop was referring to Kagan’s role in changing ACOG’s original statement, which declared that the group “could identify no circumstances under which this procedure … would be the only option to save the life or preserve the health of the woman.” Kagan in a memo wrote that ACOG’s original testimony “would be a disaster” and so revised the statement to say that partial-birth abortion “may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman.”
Kagan, writing to Bruce Reed, Clinton’s Chief Domestic Policy Advisor, later said that the statement “turned out a ton better than expected” – in hindsight, Kagan’s revision of ACOG’s testimony was key in swaying the opinion of federal courts, delaying the federal partial-birth abortion ban for over a decade.
“Medical science should not have been twisted in 1997 for political or legislative gains,” said Koop. He stated that neither back in 1997 nor today is there any medical evidence to suggest that partial birth abortion is ever medically necessary. He added that the procedure in fact, has risks of its own and could injure a woman.
“This is unethical, and it is disgraceful, especially for one who would be tasked with being a measured and fair-minded judge,” wrote Koop, urging the Senate to vote no because of Kagan’s “politization of medical science.”
Charmaine Yoest, President of Americans United for Life, also urged the Senate to examine AUL Action’s 54-page report detailing the evidence showing Kagan’s role not only in changing the ACOG statement, but also in trying to manipulate the American Medical Association into changing its statement denying any medical necessity for partial birth abortion.
“I strongly encourage Senators to closely examine our report and to formally investigate her role in the partial-birth abortion debate before bringing this nomination to a floor vote,” said Yoest. “Based on these concerns, I urge the full Senate to roundly reject her nomination.”
So far just 16 GOP senators have committed “no” votes against Kagan. Twenty-five Democrats have said they will vote “yes” to confirm her.
With Democrats controlling the Senate 59-41, a filibuster is very unlikely, given that a few Republicans have indicated they will support her confirmation.
A full vote on the floor of the Senate is expected within the next few days.
See related USA Today opinion article on Elena Kagan by Sen. Jeff Sessions here.
See related coverage by LifeSiteNews.com:
Kagan Partial-Birth Abortion Role ‘Seriously Compromised’ Federal Court Testimony: Report
Kagan Sought to Twist another Medical Statement on Partial-Birth Abortion: AUL
Kagan Proves ‘The Artful Dodger’ on Abortion, Same Sex ‘Marriage’
Docs Reveal Kagan Undermined Key Testimony on Partial-Birth Abortion
Memos Show Kagan’s Hand in Clinton-Era Abortion, Assisted Suicide Policy Decisions