Confirmation hearings begin for Elena Kagan

(AP) - The Senate Judiciary Committee has gaveled toorder historic Supreme Court hearings for Elana Kagan, a Clintonera legal adviser who is the second woman President Barack Obamahas put forward for a seat on the bench. The leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee are urging Kaganto be open with lawmakers and the American people scrutinizing herqualifications for the high court bench. But beyond that broad admonition, Democrat Patrick Leahy andRepublican Jeff Sessions parted company. Leahy, chairman of the panel, called Kagan eminently qualified.But he also said she should clearly state her judicial philosophyand "assure us of her judicial independence." Sessions, an Alabama Republican, charged that Kagan "has lessreal experience than any nominee" in 50 years. He charged that shebroke the law in denying military recruiters access to students atHarvard Law School, where she served as dean.

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