Washington (CNN) - Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan was hit with a blizzard of questions about politically thorny social and economic issues in her Senate confirmation hearings Wednesday.
In keeping with the tradition of other recent high court nominees, however, the 50-year-old solicitor general repeatedly declined to indicate how she might rule if approved, leading one senator to bemoan what many observers now characterize as a confirmation process devoid of substance.
Kagan spent much of the third and likely final day of hearings portraying herself as someone who would be an independent voice on the high court. She told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that, if confirmed, she will not be influenced by her previous political positions in the Clinton administration and elsewhere.
Read live updates on the Kagan hearings here.
Washington (CNN) - It has long been the dream of many a liberal advocate: to have an unabashedly outspoken, cleverly articulate justice who can take on the conservative majority and inspire young progressives for decades to come - a "Scalia for the Left," as many have called it.
If confirmed, Elena Kagan may or may not turn out to be that intellectual counterweight to conservatives Justice Antonin Scalia or Chief Justice John Roberts. But Kagan displayed in her confirmation hearing Tuesday what those two men share - a ready public wit and disarming sense of humor.
Time and again, the nominee sought to subtly charm lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee, many of whom tried to press her for candor on a range of contentious issues such as gun rights, executive power and military recruiting on campus.
Kagan's funny asides during 10 hours of questioning appeared spontaneous, and colleagues say that is her style: someone who is serious about the law but who enjoys a good laugh, often at her expense.
(CNN) – Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan has largely remained stoic during her appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but the potential top court justice said Tuesday she did break down during one part of the confirmation process.
Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy read Kagan an op-ed from former Harvard Law graduate and Marine Captain Robert Merrill in which he praises Kagan's controversial dealings with the military when she served as dean at Harvard.
"Senator Leahy that was... this has been a sort of long process, this process and sometimes an arduous one," said Kagan. "I've only cried once during this process and I cried when I woke up one morning and I read that op-ed from Captain Merrill. It meant just an enormous amount to me. He is a magnificent man doing great things for our country and his praise meant more to me than anybody's."
Washington (CNN) - The President hosted Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan in the Oval Office Monday morning to offer his encouragement and good luck prior to her nomination hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
A White House official says the Obama-Kagan morning pep talk only lasted " a couple of minutes" as he wanted to "wish her good luck in person."
In describing her mood before heading over to Capitol Hill, the official said "she seemed excited for the committee hearing to get started. She's well prepared."
Solicitor General Kagan's White House support team at the hearing includes White House Counsel Bob Bauer, Susan Davies (Bauer's deputy who has been running day-to-day of the confirmation process) and Phil Schiliro, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs.
(CNN) - Elena Kagan lacks judicial experience and has a record of supporting liberal political causes, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee said Monday at the confirmation hearing for Kagan's Supreme Court nomination.
"While academia certainly has value, there is no substitute, I think, for being in the harness of the law, handling real cases," Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, said in his opening statement.
His Democratic colleague, Sen. Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that Kagan would be an independent Supreme Court justice, and that he advised her to be open in expressing her judicial philosophy at her confirmation hearing.
(CNN) - Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan will tell members of the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday that "we come closest to getting things right when we approach every person and every issue with an open mind," according to excerpts of her opening statement released by the White House.
"I will make no pledges this week other than this one - that if confirmed, I will remember and abide by all these lessons. I will listen hard, to every party before the Court and to each of my colleagues. I will work hard. And I will do my best to consider every case impartially, modestly, with commitment to principle, and in accordance with law."
Washington (CNN) - The political irony for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is who she is, what she hopes to be and the path necessary to fulfilling a long-held dream.
Confirmation hearings for the 50-year-old academic and government lawyer begin Monday. Although she has never been a judge, Kagan is seeking a lifetime job on the nation's highest court.
To get there, she herself must first be judged - by 17 senators on the Judiciary Committee, who will decide whether she deserves a final floor vote.
The hearings promise to be an intense examination of her record advocating for two Democratic White Houses and her work as a teacher and administrator at top law schools.