WASHINGTON - For the second summer in a row, a nominee to the Supreme Court has taken her seat before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Solicitor general Elena Kagan is on track for confirmation, but the 50-year-old remains a mystery to many Americans.
She never served as a judge, so senators don't have a paper trail of rulings to evaluate on her.
Committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy urged her to be open in the hearings "to assure us of her judicial independence from either the right or the left."
That will be important to some Republicans who fear, if confirmed, she will be a rubber stamp for the Obama administration.
"Will the Constitution control her or will she control the Constitution?" Sen Orin Hatch, R-Utah, wondered.
"Throughout her career Ms. Kagan has associated herself with well-known activist judges who have used their power to redefine the meaning of words of the Constitution and laws in ways that not surprisingly have the results of advancing that judge's preferred social policies and agendas," claimed Sen. Jeff Sessions, a ranking Republican member of the judiciary committee.
Kagan has spent her career blazing new trails for women, serving as the first female dean of Harvard Law School and first female solicitor general.
The White House has painted her as a brilliant legal mind who can build consensus on the court, but conservative groups are loudly protesting her nomination -- arguing she's not qualified for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land.
"She doesn't shy away from stretching the law, nor does she shy away from stretching the facts to legal cases," said Carri Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network. "Is this the kind of person we want on the Supreme Court? Can we trust her to take the law and the facts as they come straight, and not use them for political opinion?"
Perhaps the most alarming part of Kagan's record for conservatives was her decision as Harvard Law School dean to bar military recruiters from campus because of the military's 'Don't ask, Don't tell' policy on homosexuals.
"Remember that she will be in this place for 30 or 40 years," warned Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition. "She is going to continue the legacy of this Obama administration."
"Will she be confirmed at the end of the day? In all probability," said Jay Sekulow senior counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice. "The president is the president. He gets to make the nomination. That is the way the Constitution works. Elections have consequences. That is a consequence. But real questions need to be asked."
If confirmed, Kagan will become the fourth woman to sit on the high court and it will be the first time in history three women have presided on the court at the same time.