Nomination Senate bound

Pushing toward an election-year Supreme Court confirmation vote, a polarized U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday approved Elena Kagan to be the third current female justice.

WASHINGTON — Pushing toward an election-year Supreme Court confirmation vote, a polarized U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday approved Elena Kagan to be the third current female justice.

Just one Republican joined Democrats to approve Kagan’s nomination and send it to the full Senate, where she is expected to win confirmation within weeks.

If confirmed, Kagan would be the fourth woman to serve on the court and her swearing-in would mark the first time that three women have served together on the nine-member Supreme Court.

The debate over her nomination has unfolded against a highly partisan backdrop, at a time when Republicans are focused on making sharp distinctions between themselves and Obama, whose approval ratings are sagging little more than 100 days out from November elections.will be confirmed,“ predicted Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat and the Judiciary chairman.

Sen. Lindsey Graham broke with his party to cast the sole Republican “yes” vote on President Obama’s nominee to succeed retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. The vote was 13-6.

“What’s in Elena Kagan’s heart is that of a good person who adopts a philosophy I disagree with,” Graham said. “She will serve this nation honourably, and it would not have been someone I would have chosen, but the person who did choose, President Obama, I think chose wisely.”

At the White House, Obama hailed the vote as a “bipartisan affirmation of her strong performance” in confirmation hearings, and he called on the Senate to confirm her before Congress takes a monthlong summer break starting August 7 — a deadline Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said he looks forward to meeting.