The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Elena Kagan 13-6 today, marking the latest plot point in her sailing through the upper chamber on the way to the Supreme Court. The committee voted on party lines, except for South Carolina's Lindsey Graham, who broke ranks with his Republican colleagues to vote in favor of Kagan in dramatic (if only for his flowery remarks about bipartisanship and the meaning of elections) fashion.
The Kagan confirmation process has drawn less media attention, less public scrutiny, and less energy than last year's nomination and confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor, partly because Kagan came soon after Sotomayor; partly because she's not as controversial, having never served as a judge and written opinions that can be parsed, and never having spoken out about wise Latinas or the policymaking role of appellate courts; and partly because the conclusion has seemed so foregone.
Sotomayor, the more controversial of the two, passed the Senate on a 68-31 vote. After that, it has never seemed that the Senate's vote on Kagan would be particularly close.
The two nominees saw the exact same committee votes: party-line, with Graham breaking ranks and supporting the nominee, for the same reason.
Senate staffers have talked about the possibility of voting on Kagan during the first week of August, possibly as a last big act before the Senate breaks for August recess and the true start of campaign season. It appears the Supreme Court will have its new ninth justice in about two weeks.