GOP STILL HOPES TO DERAIL KAGAN NOMINATION…. As a rule, when a Senate caucus is going to lose a fight over a judicial nominee, the goal is to lose in the most effective way possible. In the case of a Supreme Court hopeful like Elena Kagan, that would mean the GOP using her nomination to advance the Republican line on the judiciary, rile up the base with attacks on liberals, etc.

Given what we saw last week — Kagan seemed to cruise through Judiciary Committee questions — it seems unlikely the GOP will be able to capitalize much in this go around. But Roll Call reports today that Senate Republicans seem to actually perceive Kagan as vulnerable.

Few doubt that Elena Kagan will be the next Supreme Court justice. But that’s not stopping Senate Republicans from continuing their campaign to try to derail her nomination. […]

The offensive, which largely mirrors the Republicans’ line of questioning during Kagan’s Judiciary hearings, will primarily be aimed at convincing moderate Democrats and undecided Republicans to oppose the nomination. Republicans are hoping those Senators will find aspects of her record unacceptable for a prospective high court justice — particularly her decision when she was dean of Harvard Law School to limit military recruiters’ access to the campus because of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy banning openly gay individuals from serving.

It’s hard to say just how serious Republicans are about this, because it sounds an awful lot like wishful thinking. After all, the military recruiters’ argument was proven baseless before the hearings even began, and nothing new and/or damaging emerged during the confirmation hearings.

But the charade continues.

Republicans also hope to use that issue to convince Senators that Kagan isn’t trustworthy and that she wasn’t forthcoming enough during her hearings on the subject. Republicans believe they already scored at least one victory on that front Friday when Sen. Orrin Hatch — a veteran member of the Judiciary Committee — announced he would vote “no.” […]

Hatch is considered somewhat of a bellwether for the rest of the veteran Republican Senators, many of whom look to him for guidance on judicial nominations and are likely to follow his lead.

This all seems rather pointless, but maybe Republicans will catch a break and hold the final majority voting to confirm to under 67 votes (which is what Justice Sotomayor received).

In terms of scheduling, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on Kagan a week from today, and the leadership intends to bring her conformation to the floor before Aug. 6.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.