WASHINGTON — Sen. Tom Coburn promised President Barack Obama on Monday that he would keep an open mind about U.S. Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, but Sen. Jim Inhofe announced that he would oppose her.
"I don’t want to prejudge,” Coburn, R-Muskogee, said in an interview. "I want to keep an open mind.”
Coburn sits on the Judiciary Committee, which will hold nomination hearings for Kagan, who is now solicitor general, the administration’s advocate before the high court. Coburn, who is friends with Obama, said he told the president he would keep an open mind.
However, he said Kagan has "a couple of strikes against her” — the fact that she has never been a judge and her fierce opposition to a federal law requiring colleges to allow military recruiters on campus.
Coburn voted in the full Senate last year for Kagan’s nomination to be solicitor general, while Inhofe was one of 31 senators, all Republicans, to vote against her.
"This is a totally different deal,” Coburn said of his previous vote. "Nobody should take that to mean I think she’s acceptable for the Supreme Court ... . They’re not comparable positions. This is a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land.”
Inhofe, of Tulsa, said that he was concerned that Obama "has placed such trust in a nominee that has not been properly vetted through a judicial career.”
He said Kagan showed "poor judgment” in banning military recruiting on the campus of the Harvard Law School when she was dean.
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