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Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn vows open mind on Supreme Court nominee Kagan; Sen. Jim Inhofe opposed

Sen. Tom Coburn says he promised President Barack Obama that he__8217__d keep an open mind on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan

BY CHRIS CASTEEL Modified: May 11, 2010 at 12:09 am •  Published: May 11, 2010
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.

"She took the issue even further when she joined with other law school officials in a lawsuit to overturn the Solomon amendment, which was adopted by Congress to ensure that schools could not deny military recruiters access to college campuses,” Inhofe said.

University of Oklahoma law professor Joseph Thai, who was a clerk 10 years ago for retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, said Monday that he expects Kagan to be confirmed easily. Coburn Questioned Kagan About Lack of Experience Coburn Written Questions to Kagan on Military Recruiters,...

What people said about the nomination

"Solicitor General Kagan has a strong academic background in the law. I have been

generally pleased with her job performance as solicitor

general, particularly regarding legal issues related to the war on terror.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham,

R-S.C., Judiciary

Committee member

"The fact that she has so much practical experience, on a court where it is missing, should be considered an asset. She has a long record as a consensus builder and is the kind of person who can bridge the 5-4 splits that have become so routine on this court.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer,

D-N.Y., Judiciary

Committee member

"We are extremely disappointed by the president’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. … Even with her sparse legal record, one thing stands out — her

emotional and legal commitment to the LGBT (lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender) agenda.”

Tom Minnery,

senior vice president

at Focus on the Family Action

"She is a surprising choice from a president who has emphasized the importance of understanding ‘how the world works and how ordinary people live.’ Ms. Kagan has spent her entire professional career in Harvard Square, Hyde Park and the DC Beltway. … Ms. Kagan is likewise a surprising choice because she lacks judicial experience.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas,

Judiciary Committee member


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