Alabama's senators respond to court nominee

WASHINGTON, D.C. - President Barack Obama announced the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens on the U.S. Supreme Court Monday.

Here's what Alabama's two senators, both Republicans, had to say about the nomination.

Sen. Richard Shelby:

"I look forward to reviewing Ms. Kagan's qualifications to be a jurist on our nation's highest court.  Because she has never been a judge, we must seek to ascertain her judicial philosophy from other elements of her record.  As Dean of Harvard Law School, Ms. Kagan sought to bar military recruiters from the property because of her opposition to the military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy.  I hope this act is not a harbinger of a tendency to render judgments based on political reasoning.  As the Senate considers her nomination, it will be critical to learn whether Ms. Kagan's judicial philosophy stems from her political beliefs or adheres to the U.S. Constitution.  I will give Ms. Kagan's nomination the serious consideration it deserves and the close scrutiny it requires."

 Sen. Jeff Sessions:

"I congratulate Solicitor General Kagan on her nomination to the Supreme Court. The president's announcement today allows the Judiciary Committee to move forward with the work of carefully compiling and reviewing Ms. Kagan's record, a constitutional responsibility that must be carried out with thoughtful deliberation on behalf of the American people.

"Although the Committee is familiar with Ms. Kagan from her previous nomination as Solicitor General, a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court is a far more significant position. Accordingly, her nomination merits a fresh review based on different criteria. It is unwise to make a judgment on her nomination until that evaluation is conducted.

"We know that several areas warrant close scrutiny. Ms. Kagan's lack of judicial experience and short time as Solicitor General, arguing just six cases before the Court, is troubling. The public expects Supreme Court nominees to possess a mastery of the law, a sound judicial philosophy, and a demonstrated dedication to the impartial application of the law and the Constitution. With no judicial opinions to consider, it will be especially important that other aspects of her record exhibit these characteristics.

"Also deserving review is her decision as dean of Harvard Law School to personally and aggressively restrict the U.S. military's ability to recruit some of the brightest law students in the country because Dean Kagan opposed President Clinton's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy. Her challenge to the unambiguous federal law requiring equal access for military recruiters was unanimously rejected by the Supreme Court. This is a significant issue for me since I worked hard for the passage of the Solomon Amendment. Her actions in this case, along with other issues, will need to be addressed, and Ms. Kagan will be given a fair opportunity to respond.

"There is a growing sentiment among everyday Americans that Washington is ignoring the Constitution's limits on government power. People are rightly concerned by a breathtaking expansion of government, as well as an erosion of respect for the importance of individual rights and the roles of local officials and state legislatures. This 'Washington-knows-best' mentality is evident in all branches of government, but is especially troublesome in the judiciary, where unelected judges have twisted the words of our Constitution to advance their own political, economic, and social agendas.

"Our Founding Fathers intended the Court to serve as a neutral arbiter of disputes and to defend the public from the overreach of a distant ruling class in our nation's capital. When judges instead impose their own political and social views from the bench—as President Obama's empathy standard would permit—they undermine democratic government and threaten individual liberties. To protect these important institutions, and to restore the proper check on government overreach, we must ensure that any individual nominated to the Court is deeply committed to the words of the Constitution. It is in this context that Ms. Kagan's nomination will be considered.

"I look forward to learning more about Ms. Kagan through this process and to hearing her testimony on these and other important matters. It is my sincere hope the president made this nomination because he believes Ms. Kagan possesses the rare qualities that make an exceptional judge—objective and faithfully devoted to the Constitution—and not because she is expected to produce results that he and his administration favor."