A majority of U.S. voters expect Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan to be confirmed by the Senate, a new poll shows.
Eighty-two percent believe the U.S. solicitor general will get the necessary confirmation votes to take a seat on the nation's highest court, according to Rasmussen Reports. But only a third say she should become the next justice. Another third oppose her confirmation.
By comparison, 45 percent favored the confirmation of President Obama's 2009 nominee, Sonia Maria Sotomayor.
Kagan, who was nominated by Obama on Monday, is expected to begin meeting with senators on Wednesday to garner support as she seeks to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.
Her lack of judicial experience has some conservatives concerned. With no prior court decisions to scrutinize, there is little evidence as to what kind of Justice Kagan would be.
And that makes it all the more important to closely examine her judicial philosophy, said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice.
"With the Senate's constitutional role of providing 'advice and consent' regarding nominees, we call on the Senate Judiciary Committee to provide full and thorough hearings and ask the tough questions about how Kagan views the role of Justices, the Constitution, and the rule of law," he urged.
Sekulow does not expect Kagan to express legal opinions concerning specific issues, but he wants to know: "Will she abide by the Constitution, or will she take an activist view?"
"[T]he American people deserve to know whether this nominee – who could serve for many decades – embraces the philosophy of judicial activism."
One of the biggest issues senators are expected to grill Kagan on during her upcoming confirmation hearing is Obama's new health care law.
Same-sex marriage, the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy against gays serving openly in the military, immigration and abortion are also expected to be brought up.
So far, Kagan has written very little and has not spoken publicly on controversial issues such as abortion, Christian legal firm Liberty Counsel points out. Her position on homosexuality, meanwhile, came to light when she blocked the military from recruiting on Harvard Law School's campus because of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Kagan served as the dean of Harvard Law School.
Traditionally, Supreme Court nominees have not specified their positions on controversial issues. But the pressure is on Kagan to break that tradition by following through with the position she expressed in a 1995 paper. In it, she criticized the confirmation process as a "vapid and hollow charade, in which repetition of platitudes has replaced discussion of viewpoints and personal anecdotes have supplanted legal analysis."
She also criticized senators for engaging in "a peculiar ritual dance, in which they propound their own views on constitutional law, but neither hope nor expect the nominee to respond in like manner."
According to the recent poll of 1,000 likely U.S. voters, conducted on Monday, 56 percent of voters believe it is fair for a U.S. senator to oppose an otherwise qualified court nominee because of disagreements over ideology or judicial philosophy.
In other findings, 39 percent of voters nationwide already believe the Supreme Court is too liberal, a quarter think the high court is too conservative, and 27 percent feel the court's ideological balance is about right.