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Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan answers questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on the second day of her confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill.
Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan answers questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on the second day of her confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill. Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Elena Kagan was confirmed Thursday to the U.S. Supreme Court by the Senate in a 63 to 37 vote.
Kagan, who has served as the Obama Administration's solicitor general, becomes the fourth woman confirmed to the high court and the 112th justice.
Her membership on the court will give the court the most women justices it's had serving together — three.
Kagan hasn't even officially started her new job buy already court and Congress watchers are wondering what should happen if another vacancy arises in the remainder of President Barack Obama's term, especially if the court's swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, departs the court.
NPR's Liz Halloran mined reported on that particular angle. An excerpt of her report:
Court-watchers are already puzzling out how the potential depletion of the Democrats' Senate majority, now at 59-41 (counting the two independents), could affect how Obama fills high court vacancies if any emerge during the last two years of his term.
"If Republicans pick up a significant number of seats, there is potential for President Obama to alter his thinking a bit in picking his next nominee," says GOP strategist Keith Appell, who has been active in judicial appointment battles.
"But there are other variables that have to play out — including whether the next vacancy is to fill the seat of another liberal, a conservative or Justice Anthony Kennedy, who seems to be a swing vote," Appell says.
"It's going to be exceedingly difficult to get a liberal judicial activist confirmed on the court," he says. "And more contentious if the vacancy is for Kennedy's seat."
He does not predict, however, a move toward a GOP filibuster of Obama's high court nominees, even if the Republicans have larger numbers in the Senate.