Jim Inhofe First Republican to Oppose Kagan

Senate Armed Services Committee member Sen. James Inhofe , R-Okla., makes a statement to the panel Tuesday, May 11, 2004, during the Senate Armed Services committee hearings regarding abuses of Iraqi prisoners in the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, Iraq . (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds) AP

AP

That didn't take long: Within hours of President Obama announcing his selection of Elena Kagan to succeed John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court, Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma became the first Senate Republican to announce his opposition to her nomination.

"As with her nomination to serve as Solicitor General, I remain concerned about Elena Kagan's record," Inhofe said. "Now as a nominee to the Supreme Court, her lack of judicial experience and her interpretation of the Constitution also play an important role in my decision to once again oppose her nomination. The position for which she has been nominated has lifetime tenure, and it is concerning that the President has placed such trust in a nominee that has not been properly vetted through a judicial career, having worked mostly in academia and never before as a judge."

He added: "While her service as the Dean of Harvard Law School is an impressive credential, decisions she made in that role demonstrated poor judgment. While there, she banned the U.S. military from recruiting on campus, an issue very important to me. She took the issue even further when she joined with other law school officials in a lawsuit to overturn the Solomon amendment, which was adopted by Congress to ensure that schools could not deny military recruiters access to college campuses. Claiming the Solomon Amendment was 'immoral,' she filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in Rumsfeld v. F.A.I.R opposing the Amendment. The Court unanimously ruled against her position and affirmed that the Solomon Amendment was constitutional."

"I am also concerned about the seeming contempt she has demonstrated in her comments about the Senate confirmation process as well as her lack of impartiality when it comes to those who disagree with her position," he wrote.

While they have expressed concerns about her, most of Inhofe's Republican colleagues have suggested they will refrain from taking a position on Kagan until they learn more.

The White House pushed back at Republican criticisms of Kagan's position on military recruiters today, with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs saying at the White House briefing that "there was never a pause in military recruitment at Harvard Law School."

"They were not afforded access as part of the Office of Career Services, but through the veterans office, they had access to students at Harvard Law School," he said. "And in 2005, in fact, more Harvard Law School graduates than in any of the preceding years chose military service, something that the solicitor general has lauded students for and the military in general for the safety and the security that they provide her and all of the American people."

Gibbs also hit back at the notion that Kagan's lack of judicial experience is a liability, stating that its valuable to have "somebody with a diversity of experience."

He suggested it is a positive that Kagan is "somebody outside of what many refer to as the judicial monastery, somebody who comes at things looking at them from a slightly different angle."

In 1995, Kagan deemed the confirmation process a "vapid and hollow charade."

Explaining the comments at her solicitor general confirmation hearings last year, she said this: "I wrote that when I was in the position of sitting where the staff is now sitting and feeling a little bit frustrated that I really wasn't understanding completely what the judicial nominee in front of me meant and what she thought."

CBSNews.com Special Report: Elena Kagan

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