Elena Kagan sought to position herself Monday as someone who would be a neutral arbiter if confirmed as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, defying hopes from the political left and right that she would outline a clear judicial philosophy during her confirmation hearing.

Kagan, in her opening statement, echoed comments from previous nominees in declaring that she would put ideology aside as a judge. “I’ve learned that we make progress by listening to each other, across every apparent political or ideological divide,” she told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I’ve learned that we come closest to getting things right when we approach every person and every issue with an open mind.”

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