Specter slams Kagan 'non-answers' but will vote 'yes'

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Sen. Arlen Specter, left, wrote that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan "did just enough to win my vote," in a USA Today op-ed.ROD LAMKEY / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: The Associated Press

Sen. Arlen Specter says he will support the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court despite what he calls her "non-answers" to senators' questions during confirmation hearings.

In an op-ed piece published Thursday in USA Today, the Pennsylvania Democrat and past critic of Kagan said she "did just enough to win my vote."

Specter, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, cited Kagan's openness to televised Supreme Court proceedings and her pick of Justice Thurgood Marshall as her role model.

Specter voted last year against confirming Kagan to her current post as solicitor general. He was then a Republican, and has said he opposed her because she wouldn't answer questions about how she'd approach cases.

Specter, who switched parties last year, acknowledged in his op-ed that Kagan was following other high court nominees in giving evasive responses. "But her non-answers were all the more frustrating, given her past writings that the hearings were vacuous and lacked substance," he wrote, referring to a 1995 book review by Kagan that criticized Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

Also, Thursday, Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker said he plans to vote against Kagan. He said she "demonstrates a troubling tendency to insert her personal beliefs" when considering difficult legal issues.

There's little doubt that the Judiciary panel will approve President Barack Obama's nominee to succeed retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. Democrats have a lopsided majority on the committee.

The panel is set to vote Tuesday on whether to send her nomination to the full Senate for confirmation.