Kagan has presumption of court confirmation

 By David Espo

AP Special Correspondent
WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan embarks on her quest for Senate confirmation with a strong presumption of success, drawing praise from majority Democrats and nary the threat of an all-out election-year battle from Republicans.
GOP critics laid down a series of markers, though, making clear they will question the 50-year-old solicitor general about her lack of judicial experience, her decision as dean of the Harvard Law School to ban military recruiters from campus, and her ability to rule objectively on cases involving the Obama administration.
Americans “do not want someone to be a rubber stamp for any administration,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Monday, a few hours after President Barack Obama named Kagan as his choice for the high court. 
“They instinctively know that a lifetime position on the Supreme Court does not lend itself to on-the-job training.”
Vice President Joe Biden, in interviews Tuesday morning on television news shows, predicted that Kagan would win Senate confirmation with “strong, bipartisan support.”
If confirmed, Kagan would take the place of retiring Justice John Paul Stevens and, on the face of it, would not be expected to alter the ideological balance of a court that often splits 5-4 on the most contentious cases.
Even so, Obama e-mailed a video to thousands of supporters in which he said the 90-year-old Stevens has helped justices “find common ground on some of the most controversial and contentious issues the court has ever faced.” 
He added Kagan could “ultimately provide that same kind of leadership,” suggesting she had the legal acumen and personality necessary to knit together a majority coalition of five justices, as Stevens has done.
The president did not identify any of the cases he was referring to.