US Senate Panel Opens Kagan High Court Hearing

President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee has begun a week of intense examination by a Senate panel that will examine her qualifications for a life term on the country's highest legal authority.In a highly charged partisan atmosphere, Republicans plan to focus on Elena Kagan's lack of judicial experience and liberal political background, but she is expected to win approval from the Democrat-dominated panel and confirmation by the full Senate.Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, noted Monday that Kagan, if confirmed, would be the fourth woman to take a seat on the high court. She also would be Obama's second selection to don the robes of a justice. The first was Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was seated on the court last year.