WASHINGTON — The Democratic Party put Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan front and center Thursday on an e-mail appeal to raise funds and sign up supporters for President Barack Obama's agenda.
"Kagan for Justice," reads a bumper sticker-style headline on a website where supporters are asked to sign their names and give their e-mail addresses, then taken to a site where they are asked to donate money to the Democratic National Committee.
Also topping the site is a picture of a smiling Kagan, who just concluded three days of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee at which she pledged repeatedly to cast aside any political allegiances if confirmed, and decide cases solely on the basis of the Constitution and the law.
The appeal comes from Donna Brazile, one of Democrats' top voter registration officials.
"The Democratic Party is pushing back to ensure that this incredible woman gets a fair hearing, but we must also show that public support for Kagan is overwhelming," Brazile writes.
The message comes as the Judiciary panel is wrapping up a week's worth of hearings on Kagan, who's on track for confirmation after a smooth performance before senators.
Republicans say she'd have trouble putting aside her political leanings and ruling in an impartial way.
"I question whether she will, as a Supreme Court justice, put politics above the law in a quest to restrict the speech of those whose political views she opposes," said David Norcross of the Republican National Lawyers Association, who was scheduled to testify Thursday during late-afternoon hearings at the Judiciary Committee.
At the White House, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs predicted Kagan would be approved by the Judiciary panel and confirmed by the full Senate.
The powerful National Rifle Association attempted to spark interest in Kagan's defeat on Thursday by opposing her as someone who "has repeatedly demonstrated a clear hostility to the fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution."
But, barring an unexpected turn, Kagan will succeed retiring Justice John Paul Stevens and become the fourth female justice in the Supreme Court's history. It would be the first time that three of the court's nine justices were women.
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The NRA, which also opposed the nomination of Justice Sonia Sotomayor last summer, said it would use senators' votes on Kagan in its influential annual ratings of lawmakers.
"In her recent testimony, she refused to acknowledge respect for the God-given right of self-defense," NRA head Wayne LaPierre and chief lobbyist Chris W. Cox said in a joint statement. "She should not serve on any court, let alone be confirmed to a lifetime seat on the highest court in the land."
Within minutes of that announcement, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence chimed in with its endorsement of Kagan's nomination.
"Her testimony has provided ample reason to think that she will interpret and apply the Second Amendment consistent with the urgent need to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people," said Paul Helmke, the center's president.
Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Senate's No. 2 Republican, on Wednesday called a filibuster of Kagan "highly unlikely." And asked outright whether Kagan was going to be confirmed, another Judiciary Committee Republican, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, replied, "I assume she will be."
Kagan, 50, spent her last day before the committee Wednesday trying to reassure conservatives that she would be able to separate her personal and political views from a job as a justice on the ideologically split Supreme Court.
"Every judge has to do what he or she thinks the law requires," she said. "But on the other hand, there's no question that the court is served best and our country is served best when people trust the court as an entirely nonpolitical body."
She later added: "As a judge, you are on nobody's team. As a judge, you are an independent actor."
Republicans still weren't convinced, although her confirmation would not change the composition of the court of four liberals, four conservatives and swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy.
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