Kagan Courts Potential Republican Ally, Sen. Lindsey Graham
May 18, 2010 - 4:55 AMSupreme Court nominee Elena Kagan once clashed with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham over the treatment of terrorism detainees. Now she's looking for his support in her drive to win confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Now she's looking for his support in her drive to win confirmation as President Barack Obama's choice to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.
Kagan is returning to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to resume courtesy calls with senators, including Graham, a potential GOP ally despite their past differences.
The South Carolinian was the architect in 2005 of a measure that strictly limited the rights of Guantanamo prisoners to challenge their detentions. Kagan, then the dean of Harvard Law School, signed a strongly worded letter with other academics criticizing the legislation, which was struck down by the Supreme Court.
Graham voted "pass" last year when the Judiciary Committee approved Kagan's nomination to be solicitor general, then missed her final confirmation vote. But he hinted last week that he might be persuaded to vote "yes" on making her a justice.
"I have been generally pleased with her job performance as solicitor general, particularly regarding legal issues related to the war on terror," Graham said in a statement, adding he would be "fair and firm" in questioning her.
Graham has shown a willingness to buck his party on big issues. He broke with most Republicans last year to back Obama's first Supreme Court pick, Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Kagan, who stepped aside Monday from her post as the government's top lawyer, has so far met with more than a dozen senators -- most of the members of the Judiciary panel that will hold her confirmation hearings. Democrats have more than enough votes to confirm her, and Republicans, seven of whom voted to make her solicitor general, say for now they're not inclined to try to block a vote.
Kagan's meeting schedule Tuesday also includes a strong critic, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, as well as two Democrats who are backers, Sens. Al Franken of Minnesota and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.
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