The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has announced June 28 as the date for confirmation hearings to begin for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, who just a year ago was confirmed for the position of solicitor general.
In announcing the date Wednesday during a committee hearing, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) reiterated the words of retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, who said in his letter of retirement last month that "it would be in the best interests of the Court to have my successor appointed and confirmed well in advance of the commencement of the Court's next term."
"I wholeheartedly agree with Justice Stevens," said Leahy. "It is in the best interest of the court, and of course of the country."
So far, Kagan is on a timetable similar to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, whose hearings started 48 days after she was designated as Supreme Court nominee. Kagan's hearings are set to begin 49 days after her nomination was announced.
"The pace would be consistent with last year's Sotomayor hearing, but we had a shorter time period," commented Sen. Jeff Sessions, the committee's top Republican, on Wednesday. "The president did give us an extra two weeks this time to consider the nomination."
Though Sessions said he would have liked some more time for his colleagues – who originally asked to have the hearings after the July recess to have more time to study – the Alabama senator appeared to have no problem with the hearings starting and concluding before the July recess.
He did, however, say they would do their best to conduct an effective hearing.
"I expect it to be a vigorous and important hearing," Sessions added.
If confirmed, Kagan would be the third woman on the court as well as the youngest justice.
Presently, the 50-year-old former Harvard Law School dean is the first high court nominee without experience as a judge since 1972.