Live

Watch CBSN Live

White House: Kagan "Extraordinarily Well Prepared" for Confirmation Hearings

Elena Kagan
President Obama after introducing Elena Kagan as his choice for Supreme Court Justice on May 10, 2010. AP

Senior White House officials assert that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is "extraordinarily well prepared" for her Senate confirmation hearing that begins Monday.

"I think any questions about her qualifications will be laid to rest," says White House Counsel Bob Bauer.

As part of her preparation, Kagan has been spending several hours a day in mock sessions fielding questions of the kind she expects to face from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In a White House conference call with reporters today, Bauer said he expects Kagan will show "how supremely qualified she is for the court."

Some critics regard Kagan as too liberal and fear she'll be an activist on the Supreme Court, basing her rulings on personal political views.

Robert Bork, a one-time Supreme Court nominee rejected by the Senate in 1987, said Thursday he regards Kagan as unfit to serve as an Associate Justice. He cited her publicly stated admiration for Aharon Barak, for many years a leading liberal activist judge in Israel

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell questions Kagan's service as a political advisor and operative in the Clinton Administration. He's not sure she can make "the necessary transition from politics to neutral arbiter."

CBSNews.com Special Report: Elena Kagan
Kagan Coverage from CBS News Legal Correspondent Jan Crawford

"Every Justice has a point of view they bring to the bench," says Senior Adviser to the President David Axelrod. The question, he says, is will they judge on the merits and apply the law in an impartial way?

Kagan will "absolutely, absolutely do that," he said on the same White House conference call with Bauer. He said Kagan has "a deep appreciation for the rule of law," and suggestions to the contrary "will fall flat."

The White House boasts it has supplied the Senate with over 160,000 pages of documents about Kagan and her years of government service. Bauer said the documents include 77,000 pages of e-mail to and from Kagan.

If confirmed, Kagan would be Presidnet Obama's second addition to the high court after Sonia Sotomayor, nominated and confirmed last year. Kagan would also be the 4th woman to serve on America's highest court.

Axelrod concedes that the hearings will be taking place in a "highly charged partisan environment," with midterm elections just a few months off. But in the end, he thinks "there'll be many Republicans who vote for the nomination" - sufficient to see her confirmed.


Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow him on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/markknoller.
View CBS News In