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GOP Senate candidates cite concerns about Supreme Court nominee

May 10, 2010 |  5:53 pm

The major Republican candidates running to replace California Sen. Barbara Boxer expressed doubts Monday about the qualifications of Solicitor General Elena Kagan, President Obama’s choice to succeed retiring Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court.

Both former Rep. Tom Campbell and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina said they were concerned about Kagan’s lack of judicial experience and the limited paper trail that senators would have to assess her record.

“The role of the U.S. Senate is to confirm a judicial nominee if that person has the experience, intelligence and work ethic for the job; and if the person's judicial thinking is sufficiently within the spectrum of reasonable jurisprudential debate,” Campbell said in a statement Monday. “I have serious reservations whether Solicitor General Kagan has sufficient experience; and I have virtually no information to judge where her own judicial philosophy fits in the spectrum of reasonable debate.”

As a result, Campbell said that if he were in the Senate, he would vote “no” on the nomination — with the caveat that he would consider any additional information that emerges in the Senate hearings.

Orange County Assemblyman Chuck DeVore would also vote against Kagan’s nomination if he were in the Senate, his spokesman said, adding that DeVore would release a statement detailing his reasons later this evening.

Fiorina said she would reserve judgment until the vetting is completed.

“Given Ms. Kagan’s brief litigation experience, lack of any judicial experience and in light of some of the information publicly available about her record, the Senate must ensure a confirmation process that is fair, tough and includes a close examination of her career, writings and public statements,” she said Monday.

Fiorina called aspects of Kagan’s record “troubling”: “The extent to which her effort to keep military recruiters off Harvard’s campus was motivated by her own political views rather than by following the law of the land may indicate a potential activist mentality I do not believe is appropriate for the court.”

Boxer, on the other hand, praised Kagan’s “proven ability to reach across ideological lines” and for breaking barriers as the first female dean of Harvard Law School. In her statement, the California Democrat said that from what she had seen thus far: “Elena Kagan understands the fundamental promise of our Constitution, which is equality, justice and fairness for all Americans.”

-- Maeve Reston in Los Angeles