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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Senate voted 63-37 today to confirm Elena Kagan as the 112th justice and fourth woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Five Republicans, the two Senate independents and all but one Democrat supported President Barack Obama's second appointment to the high court in a year. His first nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, was confirmed almost exactly a year ago.
Kagan succeeds retired Justice John Paul Stevens, considered the leader of the court's liberals. Kagan, 50, is also considered a liberal and her confirmation is not expected to alter the ideological balance of a court dominated by a 5-4 conservative majority.
Kagan is a former dean of the Harvard Law School and a legal advisor to both the Clinton and Obama administrations. She is the first nominee in 40 years who has never served as a judge, but her Democratic supporters defended her as a highly qualified legal scholar.
For the first time in its history, the court will have three women justices when Kagan joins Sotomayor and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the panel. Retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was the first woman appointed to the court by President Ronald Reagan, serving from September 1981 to January 2006.