WASHINGTON — Pushing toward an election-year Supreme Court confirmation vote, a polarized Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday approved Elena Kagan to be the fourth female justice.
Just one Republican joined Democrats to approve Kagan's nomination and send it to the full Senate, where she's expected to win confirmation within weeks.
"Elena Kagan will be confirmed," predicted Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the Judiciary chairman. "She will go on the U.S. Supreme Court."
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., broke with his party to cast the lone GOP "yes" vote on President Barack Obama's nominee to succeed Justice John Paul Stevens, who retired in June. The vote was 13-6.
"What's in Elena Kagan's heart is that of a good person who adopts a philosophy I disagree with," Graham said. "She will serve this nation honorably, and it would not have been someone I would have chosen, but the person who did choose, President Obama, I think chose wisely."
At the White House, Obama hailed the vote as a "bipartisan affirmation of her strong performance" in confirmation hearings, and said Kagan would be "a fair and impartial" justice who understands the impact of Supreme Court decisions on everyday people's lives.
He called on the Senate to confirm her before Congress takes a monthlong summer break starting Aug. 7 — a deadline Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he looks forward to meeting.