Poor Arlen Specter. After a poll showed him trailing Democratic primary challenger Joe Sestak by 5 points, President Obama's nomination of Elena Kagan couldn't have come at a worse time. In 2009, Specter voted against Kagan's confirmation to be solicitor general. With Kagan in the news in the week preceding the May 18 primary, Sestak should be able to use this vote to his advantage.
Republicans on Capitol Hill are also highlighting Specter's letter to Kagan following her 2009 hearing. Specter wrote at the time that he was "puzzled" by her "responses, which do not provide clear answers concerning important constitutional and legal issues."
A Republican aide on Capitol Hill writes:
Given Ms. Kagan’s lack of a judicial record and scant academic writings, it will be especially important that Senators press her on her constitutional views and judicial philosophy.
Unfortunately, many thought that Ms. Kagan was not terribly forthcoming about her views last time she appeared before the Senate. Following her confirmation hearing for Solicitor General, and the written responses to post-hearing questions for the record, Senator Specter concluded, “I believe these answers are inadequate for confirmation purposes.” He added that he was “puzzled” by her “responses, which do not provide clear answers concerning important constitutional and legal issues.” On that basis Senator Specter voted “nay” on her confirmation. Surely Ms. Kagan’s constitutional and legal views are more relevant to a lifetime position as an Associate Justice, than they are to a temporary position as an advocate.