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US Senate Committee Approves Supreme Court Nominee

A key U.S. Senate committee has approved the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, advancing President Barack Obama's pick to the full Senate for a confirmation vote.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday 13-6.

All the Democrats on the panel supported Kagan's nomination. Republican Lindsey Graham was the lone Republican who cast his vote with the Democrats. Democrats hold a 12-7 majority on the committee.

President Obama nominated Kagan to take the seat of Justice John Paul Stevens, who retired in June. In a statement, the president said Kagan has shown that she would be a fair and impartial justice who understands how descions made by the court affect the lives of Americans.

The full Senate will hold a final vote on her nomination. President Obama says he hopes the Senate votes on the nomination before the Senate's recess in August.

Senator Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the committee, announced before the vote that he would not support Kagan. He accused Kagan of placing her politics before the law, particularly in her decision as dean of Harvard Law School to limit U.S. military recruiters' access to students on campus. Kagan has said the limits were justified under the university's anti-discrimination policy because the military bars service by openly gay people under its "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley criticized Kagan's lack of judicial experience. Kagan has served as President Obama's top Supreme Court lawyer since last year, but has never been a judge.