Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Alaska Sens. Murkowski, Begich split on support for Kagan

FAIRBANKS — With Elena Kagan’s place on Supreme Court all but assured following a Senate vote likely to take place today, Alaska’s two senator’s have different views of President Obama’s second nominee for the high court.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski took to the senate floor Wednesday to oppose Kagan’s nomination. The senator said that she was particularly disturbed by Kagan’s views on the Second Amendment.

In confirmation hearings, Kagan noted the precedent set when the Supreme Court struck down the District of Columbia’s handgun ban two years ago, but Murkowski spokesman Mike Brumas said the senator took issue with Kagan’s comments because Kagan never explicitly said she would not overturn the case and could not say if she would come to the same conclusion if she heard the case.

“The conclusion I draw from all of this is that Ms. Kagan is at best uninterested in the Second Amendment at this point in her career,” Murkowski said. “At worst, she is unsympathetic to the millions of Americans, who like this senator, believe that the Second Amendment is one of the most important of our Constitutional liberties. On this basis alone, I cannot support her lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land.”

However, Democratic Sen. Mark Begich announced Wedesday that he is supporting Kagan, and that when he met with her earlier this summer, Kagan told him she supports the Supreme Court’s rulings that struck down handgun bans in D.C. and Chicago.

“I was especially pleased to hear directly from Ms. Kagan that she respects Alaskans’ views on the right to bear arms, and that she agrees the Supreme Court’s recent decisions in the Heller and McDonald Second Amendment cases are binding,” Begich said in a statement.

Murkowski did not have any private meetings with Kagan ahead of the confirmation hearings. Murkowski also took issue with the fact that Kagan, who serves as solicitor general, as no prior experience with a judge. Murkowski said that Kagan “will be one of the least experienced Supreme Court justices in our nation’s history,” and noted that Kagan does not have much experience in a courtroom setting either.

Begich spokeswoman Julie Hasquet noted that of the 111 justices who have served on the Spreme Court, more than one-third have had no federal or state judicial experience, and many, such as former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, have had very similar resumes to Kagan. A majority of senators have publicly said they support Kagan’s nomination, with only one Democrat saying he will vote against her.

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Source: By Chris Freiberg. Originally published August 05, 2010