Hearings Give Glimpse of Kagan's Views on Hot Issues

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan has made no apologies for her liberal politics during her Senate confirmation hearings this week.

"I've been a Democrat all my life, my political views are generally progressive," she told Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham Tuesday.

When another Republican, Sen. Tom Coburn, pointed out, "You're very pro-choice. You believe in a woman's right to choose. You believe in gender-mixed marriages or gay marriage," Kagan didn't disagree.

Video: Sen. Lindsey Grahm questions Kagan on abortion.

But the person seeking to become the 112th Supreme Court justice and the fourth woman to sit on the bench has repeatedly told senators that she'd separate her politics from her judging.

"You are looking at law all the way down, not your political preferences, not your personal preferences," Kagan told Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, this morning.

"Every judge has to be committed to the policies of restraint ... every judge has to realize that the people have to make the fundamental decisions in this country," she said.

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Still, Kagan's critics are concerned that her assurances of restraint belie the reality of a progressive personal mantra.

"'It's law all the way down' is a nice-sounding proposition," writes M. Edward Whelan III, president of the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center, "but there's nothing in the judicial philosophy that Kagan has so far expressed that supports her assertion that her approach would be constrained."

Coburn told the nominee, "I do not know one judge who can 100 percent separate themselves of who you are when you judge."

So who is Elena Kagan and what are her beliefs on divisive legal questions? Her testimony has provided a glimpse of her views on such topics as abortion, gun rights and executive power.

Tough Questions for Kagan in Confirmation Hearing

Death Penalty

"I think somebody also asked me whether I had moral qualms about imposing the death penalty ... and I said that I had no such moral qualms and that I could conscientiously apply the law as it was written," Kagan told Sen. Richard Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois.

Abortion Rights

Kagan directly addressed the controversial ban on a procedure its critics call "partial birth abortion," which the Supreme Court has upheld. "With respect to abortion generally, putting that procedure aside, I think that the continuing holdings of the court are that the woman's life and that the woman's health must be protected in any abortion regulation," she told California Sen. Diane Feinstein.

Video: Sen. Jeff Sessions R-AL., questions Kagan on military recruiting.

Kagan Offers Glimpse of Views on Key Issues

Gun Ownership

Despite her reticence as a Supreme Court clerk in 1987 to accept the notion that the Constitution gives an individual a right to bear arms, Kagan told the committee that recent Supreme Court decisions have made that conclusion settled law.

Kagan characterized the recent Heller and McDonald decisions, which affirmed an individual's right to own a gun, as "binding precedent."

"It's not enough, even if you think something is wrong, the whole idea of precedent is that it is not enough to say precedent is wrong. ... You assume that its right.."

"It's not enough, even if you think something is wrong, to say, 'Oh, well, that decision was wrong.'...The whole idea of precedent is ... that you assume that it's ... right and that it's valid going forward," she said.

Health Care Law

Kagan was asked about the constitutionality of the recent landmark health care law.

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