Kagan Supreme Court Hearings to Start in June

Supreme Court nominee Solicitor General Elena Kagan sits at the start of her meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Capitol Hill in Washington Wednesday, May 12, 2010.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Elena Kagan
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Senate confirmation hearings for President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan will start June 28, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee announced today.

"There is no reason to unduly delay consideration of this nomination," Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said in a statement. "Justice Stevens announced on April 9 that he would be leaving the Court. He noted that 'it would be in the best interests of the Court to have [his] successor appointed and confirmed well in advance of the commencement of the Court's next Term,' and I wholeheartedly agree with Justice Stevens."

The hearing roughly follows the same timeline of last year's confirmation hearings for Justice Sonia Sotomayor, beginning nearly 50 days after the nomination was announced. Leahy said today that the Senate should need even less time to prepare for Kagan's hearings, since -- as Republicans have been quick to point out -- she has no judicial experience and therefore no previous rulings to be studied. Furthermore, the Senate reviewed Kagan's credentials last year when it confirmed her as solicitor general.

"Republican Senators say that they want to ask Solicitor General Kagan about her actions as the Dean of Harvard Law School and about her judicial philosophy," Leahy said. "It does not take two months to prepare to ask those questions."

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However, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement that he would prefer for the hearings to begin after the Senate takes a break for the Fourth of July.

"This would give the Committee adequate time to review Ms. Kagan's record and to prepare for the hearings--including a careful review of the hundreds of thousands of pages of documents we expect to receive from the Clinton Library pursuant to yesterday's bipartisan request," Sessions said.

Leahy's proposed timeline would put the Senate on track to confirm Kagan before breaking for its August recess. It would also kick off the hearings on what will likely be the last week of the Supreme Court's term -- when it releases its most significant and controversial decisions.

It is likely that enough Republicans and Democrats will vote to confirm Kagan to the Court.

On Tuesday, Kagan submitted her responses to a bipartisan questionnaire from Congress.