Supreme Court Debate

Debate begins today in the U.S. Senate on the Supreme Court nomination of Elena Kagan, who is fully expected to win confirmation.  The only question is how many Republicans will vote for her.

This is the fourth Supreme Court nominee to go before the Senate for confirmation in the last five years.

That is rather amazing, because before John Roberts was selected for the court by President George W. Bush in 2005, we had gone 11 years without change on the nation's highest court.

(The answer to that trivia question is 1994, when Stephen Breyer was picked by President Bill Clinton.)

This week's vote on the Kagan nomination will give us four votes on Supreme Court nominees in five years.  None of them have been especially controversial.

So, I wondered, how many Senators are likely to vote for all four of those nominees?  Two from Bush, two from Obama.

On the Republican side, five GOP Senators have said they will support Kagan.  That will mean all five will have supported John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

They are: Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), Sen. Olympia Snow (R-ME) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).

Two others could also join that group, as Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) and Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) - both of whom are retiring - seem to be possible candidates to vote for Kagan.

Another Senator who will have voted for all four Supreme Court nominees is Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), who was a Republican for Roberts and Alito, and a Democrat for Sotomayor and Kagan.

Also in the middle, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who voted for Roberts & Alito as a Democrat, and then as an Independent for Sotomayor, and now for Kagan.

As for Democrats, it looks like there will be nine other Senators who will have voted for all four court nominees in the past five years as well:

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), Sen. Jeff Bingamann (D-NM), Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Sen. Mark Pyror (D-AR).

So, the bipartisan scoreboard could read, Democrats 9 Republicans 7, (Others 2) on the question of who voted for all four nominees, including two of the other party.

18 of 100 Senators - over a five year period - isn't too bad when you think about it.

Debate begins today in the U.S. Senate on the Supreme Court nomination of Elena Kagan, who is fully expected to win confirmation.  The only question is how many Republicans will vote for her. This is the fourth Supreme Court nominee to go before the Senate for confirmation in the last ...