When Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan was confirmed in March 2009 as the first female solicitor general in history, seven Republicans voted to confirm her, including Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ). Within minutes of President Obama announcement of Kagan’s nomination today, Kyl blasted a statement to reporters emphasizing that his previous support does not guarantee that he will vote to confirm her. In an interview this morning on Bill Bennett’s radio show, Kyl described Kagan in positive terms, calling her “very accomplished,” “persuasive” and “a nice person to talk to”:
BENNETT: Elena Kagan looks like she’ll be announced today. If it is Elena Kagan, where will the focus be? Seems to me we could have done worse. This is a liberal, but not a far left person. I don’t think she is to liberals if you will what Clarence Thomas or Nino Scalia is to conservative.
KYL: Well, she may be. Because she’s…
KYL: And here’s why I say that. We, we’re talking about an effective conservative. And I think she could be an effective liberal on the bench. She is — she doesn’t seem to be over the top, though I think you’re right, I think she’s a pure liberal in her political ideology. And she’s very accomplished. She’s persuasive. She’s a nice person to talk to. And that kind of a person can be effective in persuading other justices on the bench to her point of view. So, I think she’s got all of the skills to do that. And one of the advantages that she’ll have is at least she’s not perceived at being over the top politically. The key question of course is will she approach cases with the view that the president does, which is that we want them to come out a certain way. The most recent thing — originally we wanted empathy to always win out. Now we want the big guys always to lose the cases. We always want the quote little guys to win the cases. However, you define that.
In an interview with Fox News earlier today, Kyl criticized Kagan, saying that she has a “relative lack of experience.” He also criticized Kagan’s opposition to the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy during her tenure as dean of Harvard Law School, saying she “put her own gay rights agenda above U.S. law.”