Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has participated in the confirmation hearing for every U.S. Supreme Court justice since Sandra Day O’Connor’s in 1981. This week, he will chair the hearing for Elena Kagan, his second such assignment in as many years. Earlier this month, Leahy spoke with The National Law Journal’s David Ingram about his preparation for the hearing, what he plans to ask the U.S. solicitor general and why questions about Kagan’s personal life should be off-limits. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

The National Law Journal: With President Obama’s nominees, you often use your first question to ask about a controversial subject. For example, your first question to Eric Holder was about waterboarding. Would you say you try to deflate the opposition in these hearings?

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