NRA unlikely to derail Kagan’s confirmation

July 2, 2010

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WASHINGTON — Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan appears on her way to confirmation on the nation’s highest court, with Republicans showing little interest in a long-shot filibuster attempt after grueling testimony over abortion, gays in the military, and other divisive issues.

The powerful National Rifle Association attempted to spark interest in Kagan’s defeat yesterday by opposing her as someone who “has repeatedly demonstrated a clear hostility to the fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms guaranteed under the US Constitution.’’

But, barring an unexpected turn, Kagan will succeed retiring Justice John Paul Stevens and become the fourth female justice in the Supreme Court’s history.

The NRA said it would use senators’ votes on Kagan in its influential annual ratings of lawmakers.

“In her recent testimony, she refused to acknowledge respect for the God-given right of self-defense,’’ NRA head Wayne LaPierre and chief lobbyist Chris W. Cox said in a joint statement.

Within minutes of that announcement, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence chimed in with its endorsement of Kagan.

“Her testimony has provided ample reason to think that she will interpret and apply the Second Amendment consistent with the urgent need to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people,’’ said Paul Helmke, the center’s president.

Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Senate’s number two Republican, on Wednesday called a filibuster of Kagan “highly unlikely.’’

Senators finished their public questioning of Kagan on Wednesday, but the confirmation hearing continued yesterday with testimony from outside witnesses.


Despite veto threat, House OK’s war-funding measure
WASHINGTON — The House approved an $80 billion measure last night that would fund the war in Afghanistan and revive, at least for now, a few pieces of the faltering Democratic jobs agenda.

Lawmakers advanced the legislation despite increasing fears that Afghanistan is becoming a quagmire for US troops.

To win approval of the measure, Democratic leaders added money for summer jobs, college grants, and to help local school districts at least partly stem a looming wave of teacher layoffs in the country.

The White House has threatened a veto because the state aid would be financed in part by cutting $800 million from one of the administration’s signature education initiatives.

The measure survived a crucial 215-to-210 vote but faces a tough road in the Senate, where Republicans promise to block the domestic spending added by the House.

The measure is needed to pay for the 30,000 additional troops ordered to Afghanistan.


Judge considers Va. suit over health care overhaul
RICHMOND — A federal judge is considering whether to throw out Virginia’s lawsuit challenging the health care overhaul signed by President Obama after hearing arguments over whether Virginia has jurisdiction to sue.

US District Judge Henry Hudson, after hearing arguments yesterday in Richmond, said he would decide within 30 days. Virginia claims that a requirement that people buy health insurance exceeds Congress’s powers under the Constitution, while the United States counters that requirement is allowed under its commerce powers as a result of the $43 billion absorbed by the market each year.