Press Releases

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), offered the following remarks before the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. 

The vote was 13 to 6. Kagan’s nomination now goes before the full Senate. A vote is expected before the August recess.

Following is the text of Senator Feinstein’s remarks:

“Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And I want to thank you in particular, Senator Sessions as well, for the cooperation and speed of this hearing. It truly is a job well done. So thank you both.

Overall in my mind, there is no question about Elena Kagan’s qualifications for this highest court:

  • Magna cum laude from Harvard Law School;
  • Law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall;
  • Special Counsel to this Committee;
  • An advisor to the President of the United States;
  • A respected legal scholar;
  • The first woman to be named Dean of Harvard Law School; and 
  • The first woman ever appointed Solicitor General of the United States.

In my view, there is no good reason to deny her appointment. Her credentials place her squarely among our nation’s top legal minds.

In my 17 years on this Committee, I have participated in hearings for six different Supreme Court nominees. Among them, Solicitor General Kagan stands out for her ability to order her answers to tough legal questions in a way that takes the listener logically through the progression of her thinking and knowledge of the law. Her legal reasoning, composure, staying power, humor and directness, were available to all of us to see and hear hour after hour and day after day. She spoke authoritatively about the state of the law, on topics ranging from separation of powers to the First Amendment. From the Second Amendment to the Commerce Clause and from environmental law to employment discrimination. Her grasp of each area of the law and her ability to reason within it, I believe, compared favorably with any of the nominees I have seen come before us. And candidly, it surpassed some.

Given the stark division on the current Supreme Court, where 5 to 4 decisions have overturned established law in case after case, it has become ever more apparent that we need a return to the center, and a justice who will urge moderation and who will push for consensus. 

Elena Kagan’s record gives me confidence that she could be just such a voice. As a scholar, an advisor to the President, the Solicitor General, she has worked to understand and apply the law, even when she may not personally agree with it.

Eight former Solicitors General said this about her: “During the past year Kagan has honored the finest traditions of the Office of the Solicitor General and has served the government well before the Supreme Court. The job of Solicitor General provides an opportunity to grapple with almost the full gamut of issues that come before the Supreme Court and requires an understanding of the Court’s approach to numerous issues from the criteria for certiorari review to the Justices’ approach to oral argument.”
She is supported not only by prominent lawyers on the liberal side such as Walter Dellinger, but also by those the right side such as former Bush Administration judicial nominees Miguel Estrada and Mike McConnell.

I for one, have very high hopes for the philosophy of moderation and restraint that a Justice Kagan could bring to the Court. And I think her ability to convince and cajole will also be evident. So I will vote yes in strong support of her nomination.”

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