Washington: The US senate confirmed Solicitor General Elena Kagan to a seat in the Supreme Court, making her the fourth woman ever named to the court and giving President Barack Obama his second appointment to the apex judicial body in a year.
Kagan, 50, was confirmed as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in a 63-37 vote, thus giving the nine-member court three women justices for the first time in its 121-year history.
"I am confident that Elena Kagan will make an outstanding Supreme Court Justice. I am proud, also, of the history we`re making with her appointment," Obama said in a statement soon after Kagan`s approval as the 112th justice to the Supreme Court.
Kagan will join two other woman currently serving, including Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Obama administration nominee, who was confirmed almost one year ago.
"For nearly two centuries, there wasn`t a single woman on our nation`s highest court. When Elena takes her seat on that bench, for the first time in our history, there will be three women," President said.
Obama said he was "very pleased" that the Senate has voted to confirm Kagan and gave a "full, fair and timely hearing".
Praising Kagan, a legal adviser in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, the President said she "understands that the law isn`t just an abstraction or intellectual exercise (but) behind the law there are stories. Stories of people`s lives as shaped by the law."
Kagan, a former dean of the Harvard Law School, will succeed retiring justice John Paul Stevens. She is expected to join the court when it reconvenes after the summer recess.
The vote of confirmation was largely on the party lines, after hearings and floor debate that showcased competing views of Democrats and Republicans about the court, but exposed no significant stumbling blocks to her approval.
Five Republicans joined 56 Democrats and two independents in supporting the nomination; 36 Republicans and one Democrat opposed her. Hailing the Solicitor General`s confirmation, Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi said "It is a true tribute to our heritage of progress and our promise of equality that, when Elena Kagan is sworn in, three women will sit on the Supreme Court for the first time in history."
In a 17-hour testimony Kagan had to answer more than 540 questions.
"Solicitor General Kagan demonstrated an impressive knowledge of the law and fidelity to it. She spoke of judicial restraint, her respect for our democratic institutions, and her commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law," said Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"With Elena Kagan`s confirmation, the Supreme Court will better reflect the diversity that has made our country great. We will write another chapter in the history of our Nation`s highest court. And we will take a significant step forward in fulfilling the hopes and dreams of the trailblazers who set the path for Elena Kagan to follow," he said.
The Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid praised Kagan saying her "root respect for the rule of law are in her respect for our separation of powers”.
"It is a reverence she developed during her service in all three branches of government, defending the First and Second Amendments, strengthening our national security and protecting children`s safety."