Washington (CNN) - Senators began floor debate Tuesday on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, with Republicans mustering little desire to delay a final vote. The 50-year-old solicitor general is expected to be confirmed as the 112th justice on Thursday, and would be sworn into her judicial post by week's end.
The start of three days of off-and-on debate centered on Kagan's lack of judicial experience, and whether that would hurt her ability to sit on the nation's highest court. All nine members of the current court came from various federal appeals courts.
"I have long urged presidents from both political parties to look outside what I have called 'the judicial monastery,'" said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who, by tradition, kicked off the Senate debate. "Her credentials and legal abilities have been extolled by many from across the political spectrum including [retired] Justice [Sandra Day] O'Connor and Justice [Antonin] Scalia. No one can question the intelligence or achievements of this woman. No one should question her character either."
The committee's ranking Republican, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) raised concerns that her past work in the Clinton White House and her lack of a judicial background would make her a political "activist" on the bench. "She has less real legal experience than any Supreme Court nominee in 50 years," noted Sessions. "Her testimony and her history demonstrate a dangerous political approach to the law that is contrary to our magnificent heritage of an impartial judge who fairly decides disputes."