The Senate confirmation hearings for Elena Kagan will likely include some minor dust-ups but no major battles, observers say. Liberals are worried she's more conservative than Stevens and will thus push the court to the right, but are unlikely to seriously oppose her. Conservatives respect her overall, though her move at Harvard to kick military recruiters off campus because of the ban on gays will probably catch her some flak from the right, Politico reports.
Kagan's lack of courtroom experience and thin publication record should both help and hurt: The lack of evidence about where she stands will feed into progressives' fears that she isn't liberal enough, but will also leave critics short on ammo for attacks. With Kagan, President Obama chose the middle road among his shortlist options: not as liberal as Diane Wood, but not as conservative as Merrick Garland, whom Obama is saving in case he has to make a third Supreme Court nomination, when facing a more hostile Senate, the New York Times reports.