Hagan wants a woman considered for high court

May 7, 2009 

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan thinks the U.S. Supreme Court might need another woman.

The Greensboro Democrat told Dome on Wednesday that she hopes President Barack Obama will increase the diversity of the court when he replaces retiring Justice David Souter.

Only one of the current nine justices is a woman, and only two women have ever served on the nation's highest court.

But Hagan said that was not the only qualification that should be considered.

"I'm looking for somebody who will uphold the Constitution and is highly qualified," she said. "Diversity is an issue. ... Right now there's only one woman on the court."

She also hoped the nomination would not be contentious.

"I'm hoping the nomination process goes smoothly," she said.

Hagan gets new D.C. digs

Meanwhile, Hagan held a coffee klatsch for constituents in her new office in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Wednesday.

As a freshman senator, Hagan has one of the less-desirable office spaces, but it's leagues better than the basement room her staff was stuck in while the U.S. Senate race in Minnesota dragged on.

The temporary office also meant delays in hiring staff, because there wasn't enough room for the legislative assistants and constituent services staffers. Hagan now has about 52 employees in D.C. and North Carolina.

For now, the office is sparsely decorated, with just a few scenic photos of the beach and the Triad and several flat-screen TVs. As a reminder of favorite campaign haunts, four of the TVs are named for Greensboro restaurants: Grey's, The Burro, Natty's and M'Couls.

Hagan's new space used to be part of the offices of Sens. Kristen Gillibrand, Roland Burris and Wayne Allard. If you crane your neck out of one of the windows in Hagan's personal office, you can just see the Capitol dome.

"I think I might need some curved mirrors in here," Hagan said jokingly.

Democrat wants shot at Burr

Kenneth Lewis, a Harvard-educated lawyer in Durham and fundraiser for Obama last year, is running for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate next year.

Lewis said his business experience and years of work with nonprofit groups, such as Action for Children, will help guide his work for ordinary citizens.

"We need to invest in a new prosperity that is broad-based and sustainable," Lewis said.

A Winston-Salem native, Lewis clerked for Henry Frye, then a N.C. Supreme Court justice, after graduating from law school in 1986 and has worked at firms in Charlotte, Raleigh and Durham.

Lewis raised money for Obama's U.S. Senate race in Illinois in 2004 and helped lead finance operations for Obama's presidential campaign in North Carolina last year. He lives in Chapel Hill with his wife, Holly Ewell-Lewis, and three school-age children.

Partisans among us

Members of Congress ranked two North Carolinians among the most partisan.

During the past few months, Washington-based newspaper The Hill asked more than 100 lawmakers, off the record, to name the most and least bipartisan colleagues.

"Questions about the least bipartisan members were posed on a not-for-attribution basis so that lawmakers could discuss their views frankly," the paper noted.

Reps. Virginia Foxx and Patrick McHenry were ranked second and fourth among the most partisan Republicans on the survey.

Rep. Walter Jones, meanwhile, was ranked among the 10 most bipartisan Republicans.

None of the state's Democrats made either list.

By staff writer Ryan Teague Beckwith. ryan.teague.beckwith@newsobserver.com or 919-812-4955

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