Elena Kagan made a commitment to judicial restraint and a "modest" role on the Supreme Court, as Senate confirmation hearings opened Monday. But Republicans attacked the Obama nominee for embodying the opposite qualities. In an opening statement, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) called into question Kagan's practical judicial experience: "While academia certainly has value," he said, referring to Kagan's experience as dean of Harvard Law School, "there is no substitute for being in the harness of the law, handling real cases over a period of years." He also painted her as (surprise!) a too-liberal judge who has "associated herself with well-known activist judges." Dems used their time to criticize what they insisted was a right-leaning Supreme Court, beholden to corporate interests, lambasting Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. for being more conservative than he said he was during his 2005 hearings. Dems also praised Kagan for her "moderation and pragmatism."