June 1st, 2010
03:15 PM ET
4 years ago

CNN Poll: Regardless of experience concerns, majority back Kagan

Regardless of experience concerns, the majority of Americans back Kagan.
Regardless of experience concerns, the majority of Americans back Kagan.

Washington (CNN) - Many Americans express concern over Elena Kagan's lack of experience as a judge, but they currently don't think she is too liberal for a seat on the Supreme Court and a majority say that the U.S. Senate should vote for confirm her, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday indicates that 54 percent of the public says that Kagan should be confirmed to the high court, with 36 percent saying that senators should not confirm President Obama's nominee for associate justice to the high court.

Obama nominated Kagan, who serves as the Justice Department's solicitor general, on May 10 to fill the seat being vacated by Justice John Paul Stevens, who announced his retirement in April, after 34 years on the high court. The Senate Judiciary Committee begins its confirmations hearings for Kagan on June 28.

"Kagan's nomination is getting virtually the same support that every Supreme Court nominee received in the past two decades, with one exception, Harriet Miers, the last nominee with no judicial experience," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "While Miers' public support never climbed above 44 percent, 54 percent majority want the Senate to confirm Kagan - virtually the same amount of support that Sonia Sotomayor, Samuel Alito, John Roberts, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Clarence Thomas got shortly after their nominations to the Court."

According to the poll, eight in 10 say that Kagan is qualified for the high court, but only one in seven say she's among the most qualified people that the president could have nominated. Fifty-two percent of those questioned say that they are less likely to support Kagan because she has never served as a judge.

"That compares to the 46 percent who felt that way about Miers in 2005, when she was briefly George W. Bush's pick for the high court." adds Holland. "Kagan shares another trait with Miers that concerns the public - 53 percent say they are less likely to support Kagan because her views on most major issues are not well known. That compares to 49 percent expressed the same opinion of Miers in 2005."

The survey also indicates that four in ten say that Kagan is too liberal, and 36 percent believe her views are too extreme. But most say that her views would be "about right" for the Court, similar to the numbers that Alito, Roberts, Ginsburg and Thomas got in polls taken while their confirmation process was underway.

If confirmed, for the first time in the country's history three women would be sitting on the high court at the same time. But eight in 10 say that Kagan's gender makes no difference when it comes to supporting her nomination. Three in ten say Kagan's work with the Obama administration makes them less likely to support her, with 26 percent saying it makes them more likely to support her, and 44 percent saying it makes no difference.

When Kagan served as dean of Harvard Law School, she barred military recruiters from the law school campus because the U.S. did not allow openly gay people to serve in the military. The survey indicates that four in ten say her actions make no difference, with 39 percent saying it makes them less likely to support her nomination and 19 percent saying it makes them more likely to back her.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted May 21-23, with 1,023 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

– CNN's Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report


Filed under: CNN poll • Elena Kagan
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Jeff in Virginia

    And why wouldn't the public back her?

    She's a moderate.

    June 1, 2010 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  2. Bob in PA

    It's getting harder each day to believe your quoted Polls Mr. Steinhauser and the way in which you twist the headline.

    June 1, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Stop the politics- she is qualified, intelligent and capable.
    Move for a quick confirmation and move on the legisating! job you were voted in for.

    June 1, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  4. Dave

    And therein lies the problem. Please do your research on this socialist.

    June 1, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  5. single mom

    I have problems with her because of her attitude towards the military and her lack of judicial experience. Then again, Americans preferred no experience in 2008, so I shouldn't be surprised that her her lack of experience doesn't bother those polled.

    June 1, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  6. Frank

    She looks a lot like Rachel Maddow. Is she "Lebanese" also?

    (I hold nothing against Lesbians or homosexuals. And, I support Kagan! We need more Lesbians on the bench, and I don't mean the kind in a softball dugout.)

    June 1, 2010 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  7. Bill in California

    LET'S SEE NOW...Community Organizer with less than a year's experience in the U.S. Senate becomes the president of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Now a SUPREME COURT nominee who's never served on the bench. Not to worry. I'm sure she gives great speeches.

    June 1, 2010 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  8. BillE

    Get her in. The only people that don't want her are the tea baggers, birthers, the GOP and other losers! We've had to deal with Bush's choices, now deal with some good choices.

    June 1, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  9. debra

    Anyone sitting on SCOTUS should have some judicial experience as a judge...it is the difference between "paper" law and and real law....

    June 1, 2010 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  10. NVa Native

    Scalia was a judge before his being on the Supreme Court, and look at his record of radical political and social activism since being confirmed to the court.

    June 1, 2010 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  11. Thomas Paine

    It would be hypocritical to not support Kagan due to her lack of judicial experience. William Rehnquist was 3 years younger when he was selected to the Court with no judicial experience. He eventually rose to Chief Justice.

    I'm more disappointed that the court is now solely made up of Harvard and Yale graduates. Certainly someone from west of the Mississippi, or even the Hudson for that matter, is qualified to sit on the Supreme Court.

    June 1, 2010 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  12. Willy Brown

    The only person backing this in- experience person in a huge position is another in- experienced pResident Bambi. How long will the media keep carrying the water for their failed prodigy?

    June 1, 2010 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  13. ThinkAgain

    "Many Americans express concern over Elena Kagan's lack of experience as a judge ... "

    Yeah, well many Americans are pretty dense when it comes to our nation's history. George Washington was the first president to nominate a Supreme Court Justice who did not have prior experience as a judge.

    In total, 41 past Supreme Court Justices have served on the Court without having had prior experience as a judge.

    Including Ronald Reagan's pick, William Rehnquist.

    June 1, 2010 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  14. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    There is no constitutional requirement to be a judge prior (or even have a law degree) to be on the supreme court. Granted that helps when crafting decisions.

    June 1, 2010 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  15. Dean

    If you want to evidence as to what the American people really know about who should be serving us, look at who they elected as president.

    June 1, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  16. BeverlyNC

    Kagan is an excellent choice with common sense values. Republicans oppose everything so who cares what they think about anything? They are hate-filled whiners who have done nothing, offered nothing to help working families, and have stood in the way of all legislation to help our nation recover faster from their giant messes.
    Now President Obama is having to deal with their Gulf oil disaster because, like the banks, Republicans let the oil companies do as pleased and safety went right out the window. Now President Obama is having to clean up another Republican mess. We need to get rid of these idiot Republicans before they totaly destroy our whole way of life

    Go Kagan – intelligent Americans are behind your appointment. We need to balance the court with common sense since the current members are Republicans lunatics..

    June 1, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  17. Hope E. Changey

    Why worry about Kagan's experience? After all, the country voted in a empty suit community organizer for president.

    June 1, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  18. SocialismBad

    She adores and worships Obozo. What other qualifications does she need?! I mean it is just a lifetime appointment to the United States Supreme Court. It's not like it matters all that much and that experience might be a requirement.

    June 1, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  19. notfooledbydistractions

    Despite all the hooey from the right, there's no reason to believe that Ms. Kagan isn't qualified.

    June 1, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  20. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Those 52 percent who say they won't support Kagan would support Sarah or Todd Palin for judge. LOL

    June 1, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  21. Mickey, NY

    She will be confirmed...the only ones who are really against her are Republicans. But then again, they are against EVERYTHING, even themselves!

    Republican Party: Domestic Terrorists

    June 1, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  22. William Timmel

    Kagan is a terrible choice. Kagan is a socialist, and with no real bench experience will push the socialist agenda which is a true and real danger to the United States as we have known it.

    June 1, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |