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Debate begins on Kagan

Supporters and opponents of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan are getting their final say on the Senate floor, although she seems a safe bet for confirmation.

The decisive vote is all but assured by week’s end for President Barack Obama’s nominee. Nearly all Democrats and a handful of GOP senators are expected to vote for her, but the two parties are deeply divided over her qualifications.

Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, says she’s shown she’d base her decisions on the law and the Constitution. Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama says she doesn’t value restraint and would legislate from the bench.

Kagan is in line to succeed retired Justice John Paul Stevens and become the court’s fourth woman.