Washington (CNN) - The leading senators on the Judiciary Committee signaled a contentious hearing on Elena Kagan's Supreme Court nomination starting Monday, with ranking Republican Jeff Sessions of Alabama saying a GOP filibuster was possible.
"This nominee does have serious deficiencies," Sessions said Sunday on the CBS program "Face the Nation."
He cited Kagan's lack of experience as a judge and what he called her liberal leanings.
"I think the first thing we need to decide is, is she committed to the rule of law, even if she doesn't like the law?" Sessions said.
Pressed about a possible Republican filibuster against the nomination, Sessions said: "It's conceivable a filibuster might occur."
Committee chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, responded on the same program by noting that other Supreme Court justices including William Rehnquist and Hugo Black also had no experience as judges before taking their high court seats.
Leahy called Kagan extremely qualified, noting she was the first woman to become dean of Harvard Law School and the first woman to be solicitor general in the U.S. Department of Justice.
Kagan is a "brilliant woman" with a "brilliant legal mind" and would become the 112th member of the Supreme Court, Leahy predicted.
If confirmed, Kagan would be the fourth woman Supreme Court justice.