Elena Kagan now has at least one Republican vote for confirmation to the Supreme Court: that of Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who said Tuesday that she was not someone he would have chosen “but the person who did choose – President Obama – I think chose wisely.’’
Mr. Graham’s announcement came as the Senate Judiciary Committee took up the Kagan nomination; a vote is expected later in the day. His decision was not a surprise, given that he supported Justice Sonia Sotomayor last year. But his lengthy speech in support of her sparked debate over the Senate’s approach to judicial confirmations and helped reinforce his image as a maverick in the Senate, where he has been the rare Republican willing to reach across the aisle to forge consensus with the Obama administration on issues like immigration, energy and the war on terror. In his argument, he took Mr. Obama to task for taking too partisan an approach.
“No one spent more time trying to beat President Obama than I did except maybe Senator McCain,’’ Mr. Graham said Tuesday, referring to his work in 2008 trying to elect Senator John McCain of Arizona, Mr. Obama’s Republican rival. “I missed my own election – I voted absentee. But I understood – we lost, President Obama won. The Constitution in my view puts a requirement on me not to replace my judgment for his.’’