The U.S. Senate confirmed Elena Kagan on Thursday as the fourth woman in history to serve on the Supreme Court following a 63-37 vote that was mostly along party lines.
The former Harvard Law dean is set to begin a lifetime position as the nation's 112th justice after she is sworn in this Saturday.
President Obama, who nominated Kagan for the spot nearly three months ago, said Kagan's confirmation is "an affirmation of her character and her temperament; her open-mindedness and even-handedness; [and] her determination to hear all sides of every story and consider all possible arguments."
"She knows that the Supreme Court's decisions shape not just the character of our democracy, but the circumstances of our daily lives – or, as she once put it, that 'behind the law there are stories' – stories of people's lives as shaped by the law, stories of people's lives as might be changed by law," Obama stated.
"So I am confident that Elena Kagan will make an outstanding Supreme Court Justice."
Critics of the former solicitor general, however, expressed otherwise.
"The confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice who will not uphold the right to life of the unborn is an opportunity to repeat a simple truth: Any court decision, like Roe vs. Wade and others that affirm it, which say we have a right to do wrong, lack all juridical validity," commented Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.
"We expect that Elena Kagan will continue her life-long practice of using her position to place her opinion as the final authority over the law, treat the Constitution as optional, and re-write the facts to fit her agenda, all to the detriment of our country," added Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America.
"Miss Kagan's presence at the Supreme Court will be a constant reminder to conservatives of the clear and present danger we face if we are not engaged in the political process to ensure only qualified people of character are in key positions," the conservative leader added.
Despite their criticism, conservative groups such as CWA said they would be in prayer for the incoming justice, whose addition to the Supreme Court will mark the first time in history that three women will be seated on the bench of the nation's highest court.
Kagan will also be the current court's youngest member.
"[W]e pray that Justice Kagan will take the opportunity she has been given to leave the old political games behind and approach the law with humility. We pray she no longer sees the Constitution as a tool to be manipulated to advance a particular agenda, but as an instrument to guard liberty and freedom," remarked Mario Diaz, CWA's policy director for legal issues.
"CWA will remain in constant prayer and will be diligent in holding Justice Kagan accountable for her actions in every way possible," he added.
Kagan will succeed retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, who was regarded as a leader of the court's liberal wing. The addition of Kagan isn't expected to alter the ideological balance of the closely divided court.
The departure of Justice Stevens, however, is expected to elevate the role of the already influential swing-vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy.
With Stevens gone, Kennedy, by virtue of seniority, will inherit the retiring justice's power to choose the author of some court opinions – an authority that has historically been used to subtly shape a ruling or preserve a tenuous majority.
The change might keep the court's most liberal justices from writing some of its biggest decisions.