Sotomayor Supporter Alexander to Vote ‘No’ on Kagan; Collins a ‘Yes’
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced today that he will vote against Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan when she comes up for a vote by the full Senate the week of Aug. 2.
Alexander is the 21st Republican senator to publicly oppose Kagan, so it’s not a surprise in that respect. But he is the first of the nine Republican senators who voted for Justice Sonia Sotomayor last year to come out against Obama’s second nominee to the Court. Two other GOP senators who voted for Sotomayor — Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Richard Lugar (Ind.) — have announced they will vote for Kagan.
In a statement, Alexander said his chief reason for opposing Kagan now — as it was when he opposed her confirmation as Solicitor General last year — was her decision as dean of Harvard Law School to restrict military recruiters’ access to campus facilities.
“In denying military recruiters equal access to Harvard Law students, Ms. Kagan ignored Harvard’s obligations under federal law,” he said. “Instead, she acted based upon what she thought the law should be. The use of her authority as dean in that way leads me to believe that she would use her authority as a Supreme Court Justice to advance her own policy preferences.”
This issue became a major point of contention during Kagan’s confirmation hearings several weeks ago, with witnesses appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee to defend and criticize Kagan’s actions. During her testimony, the nominee defended the restrictions as a compromise that honored Harvard’s non-discrimination policies — the military was in violation of these policies because of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban — while also adhering to federal laws that require military recruiters be allowed access to schools that receive federal funding.
Assuming Senate Democrats maintain a united front — Ben Nelson (Neb.) appears to be the only wavering member of the caucus at this point — Kagan will have at least 61 votes in her favor, meaning Senate Republicans will not be able to launch a filibuster.
Update at 3:22 p.m.: Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), another Sotomayor supporter, announced today she will vote for Kagan. This gives Kagan a likely 62 votes in the full Senate.