Republicans have questioned whether Kagan, a former Harvard law school dean who has served in the past two Democratic administrations, is driven more by politics than law.
Democratic backers call the 50-year-old nominee, who last week received the American Bar Association’s top rating, a perfect fit for the highest U.S. court.
Obama has faced a Republican wall of opposition this election year on issues like healthcare, climate change and immigration.
But barring unforeseen bombshells at the hearing, at least a few members of the opposition party are expected to join Democrats and confirm Kagan to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, the court’s leading liberal.
“She will be confirmed,” Democratic Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, who will preside over the hearing, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday.
“How many votes I don’t know (but) she will get a whole lot of votes,” Leahy added.
Senator Jeff Sessions, the committee’s top Republican, offered no such predictions. “A lot of that depends on how this hearing goes,” said Sessions, who appeared with Leahy.
On Sunday, Sessions said, “This is a confirmation, not a coronation … She has the least experience of any nominee at least in the last 50 years.”
Kagan has served the past year as Obama’s U.S. solicitor general, representing the U.S. government in cases before the court she now seeks to join.
She earlier served as Harvard Law School’s first woman dean, and in the 1990s as an attorney in the Clinton White House.
If confirmed, Kagan would be the first new member of the Supreme Court in nearly 40 years who has never been a judge.
Obama, speaking with reporters on Sunday, said: “As I examine some of the arguments that have been floated against her nomination over the last several weeks, it’s pretty thin gruel.
“Having said that, I expect that my Republican colleagues and my Democratic colleagues should ask her tough questions, listen to her testimony, go through the record, go through all the documents that have been provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and then vote their conscience,” Obama said.
‘A BRILLIANT WOMAN’
The first day of the hearing will be dominated by statements from the committee’s 19 senators. After that, Kagan will offer an opening statement. She will begin answering questions only on Tuesday.
“You’re going to see a brilliant woman, a brilliant legal mind, and you’re going to see somebody who is going to be the 112th justice of the U.S. Supreme Court,” Leahy told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
With both parties jockeying ahead of the November congressional elections, Republicans are poised to portray Kagan as a person who places her opinions above the law.
Democrats will counter by painting the Supreme Court’s conservative majority as favoring corporations over ordinary Americans.
Leahy has said he expects the full Senate to confirm Kagan before lawmakers begin their August recess.
If confirmed, Kagan would be Obama’s second high-court appointee, following Sonia Sotomayor, who won Senate confirmation last year with the help of nine Republicans in a 68-31 vote, becoming the first Hispanic U.S. Supreme Court justice.