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Fiorina opposes Kagan for high court

August 4, 2010 |  2:11 pm

Republican Senate nominee Carly Fiorina said Wednesday she would oppose the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, citing concerns about her lack of judicial experience, which she said was a “key element” in determining whether a nominee is qualified for the high court.

“As a member of the Court, her duties would be to faithfully interpret the Constitution and, in many cases, to exercise judicial restraint,” Fiorina said in a statement. “Unfortunately, her complete lack of judicial experience coupled with a public record that sheds minimal light on how she would execute these duties gives me great pause about her qualifications to serve on the highest court in the land.”

During an appearance Wednesday on the radio show of conservative host Laura Ingraham, Fiorina added that Kagan "has zero experience as a jurist. We really have no idea how she would decide critical cases."

Other nominees with limited judicial experience have been named to the court -- most notably the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who had never served as a judge before he was nominated in 1971. When asked whether Fiorina would have supported Rehnquist, her spokeswoman Julie Soderlund said Fiorina would be open to voting for a nominee with no previous judicial experience. In this case, she said, Fiorina's central concern is that there is little in Kagan's public record to help discern how she would make decisions.

In the past, Fiorina has said she would examine each Supreme Court nominee’s qualifications and gauge whether they would “try and legislate from the bench” or “ try to interpret the Constitution in a faithful way.” Last year, the former Hewlett Packard chief executive told reporters she “probably would have voted” to confirm Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, who is locked in a close race with Fiorina, defended Kagan’s credentials in a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon, stating that her “resume speaks for itself.” Boxer said the possibility of having three women serving on the Supreme Court at the same time was a “high-water mark for the country” and called Kagan “a role model for so many women entering the legal profession today.”

“Her intellect, her broad range of legal experience, her sense of fairness, her profound respect for the law make her well qualified to serve as an associate justice of the court,” she said.

 -- Maeve Reston in Los Angeles