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Hatch a ‘No’ Vote on Kagan; Where Does the Rest of Judiciary Stand?

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) announced a little while ago that he will vote against Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s confirmation when the Senate Judiciary Committee convenes after the recess, citing his belief that her legal views are based on personal politics.

Obviously this is not totally unexpected, as Hatch was fairly hostile towards Kagan during her testimony earlier this week. However, he did vote for her when she was up for Solicitor General last year. It’s also worth noting that he voted against Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation when she went before the committee last year.

Thus far Hatch is the only member of the committee to state publicly how he will vote on Kagan, though other senators are expected to make their own statements over the course of the day.

I think it’s safe to assume that all but one of the Democrats on the committee are definitely in Kagan’s favor. Most Judiciary Democrats spent their time during the hearings bashing the Court’s recent decisions on cases like Citizens United v. FEC, so it’s clear they have no issues with Kagan herself. The only one on the fence is, most likely, Arlen Specter (Pa.). As I have previously reported, he has faced a dilemma on how to vote on Kagan since Obama announced her nomination back in May. He voted against her for Solicitor General because he felt she had not fully answered his questions. Specter indicated he was not getting sufficiently detailed answers from Kagan this time around either.

Specter voted with the rest of the Democrats to confirm Sotomayor. But given that he is no longer constrained by the pressures of an election campaign — and the Democratic purse strings that would accompany such a race — he is basically free to vote as he pleases this time around.

Handicapping the Judiciary Republicans is much more difficult. Several of the GOP members took a negative tack during the hearings, especially with regard to Kagan’s handling of military recruiters while dean of Harvard Law School, so it is likely that no more than one or two of them will vote in her favor. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) is by far the most likely Republican “Yes” vote at this point, as he was Sotomayor’s only Judiciary GOP supporter.

Kagan is basically assured to move out of the committee with a favorable vote, as Democrats hold a 12-7 majority. A vote before the entire Senate is likely to occur late this month.

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