Judiciary panel OKs Elena Kagan for Supreme Court

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By The Staff

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pushing toward an election-year Supreme Court confirmation vote, a polarized Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday approved Elena Kagan to be the fourth female justice.

Just one Republican joined Democrats to approve Kagan's nomination and send it to the full Senate, where she's expected to win confirmation within weeks.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., broke with his party to cast the sole GOP "yes" vote on President Obama's nominee to succeed retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. The vote was 13-6.

"What's in Elena Kagan's heart is that of a good person who adopts a philosophy I disagree with," Graham said. "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."

A few more Republicans are expected likely to back Kagan in the full Senate, where Democrats have more than enough votes to confirm her.

But most GOP senators are against her, arguing that she would put her political views ahead of the law. They point to what they call her liberal agenda and on such issues as abortion and gun rights, and have chastised her for the decision as dean of Harvard Law School to bar military recruiters from the campus career services office because of the policy against openly gay soldiers.

"Ms. Kagan's record shows that she supports an activist judicial philosophy, and that her personal and political views drive her legal views," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

Democrats praised Kagan, the 50-year-old who has served as the Obama administration's solicitor general, calling her a highly qualified glass ceiling-shattering nominee who could bring consensus to an ideologically divided court.