Specter, Yes; Wicker, No, As Kagan Vote Draws Near

Associated Press + More

WASHINGTON — Sen. Arlen Specter says he will support the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court despite what he calls her "non-answers" to senators' questions during confirmation hearings.

In an op-ed piece published Thursday in USA Today, the Pennsylvania Democrat and past critic of Kagan said she "did just enough to win my vote."

Specter, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, cited Kagan's openness to televised Supreme Court proceedings and her pick of Justice Thurgood Marshall as her role model. [See our roundup of political cartoons on Kagan's nomination.]

Specter voted last year against confirming Kagan to her current post as solicitor general. He was then a Republican, and has said he opposed her because she wouldn't answer questions about how she'd approach cases.

Specter, who switched parties last year, acknowledged in his op-ed that Kagan was following other high court nominees in giving evasive responses. "But her non-answers were all the more frustrating, given her past writings that the hearings were vacuous and lacked substance," he wrote, referring to a 1995 book review by Kagan that criticized Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

Also, Thursday, Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker said he plans to vote against Kagan. He said she "demonstrates a troubling tendency to insert her personal beliefs" when considering difficult legal issues. [See which industries donate the most to Wicker.]

There's little doubt that the Judiciary panel will approve President Barack Obama's nominee to succeed retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. Democrats have a lopsided majority on the committee.

The panel is set to vote Tuesday on whether to send her nomination to the full Senate for confirmation.