WASHINGTON – Leading Republican senators Sunday questioned whether Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan could be an impartial judge as they tried to inject some drama into her upcoming confirmation hearing.

Democrats praised Kagan’s record and predicted she will win confirmation as the 112th justice.

The Senate Judiciary Committee begins the weeklong hearing today. Kagan is not expected to face questions until Tuesday.

Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the committee, said Kagan’s nomination has “real problems” that she will have to address.

“I think the first thing we need to decide is, is she committed to the rule of law even if she may not like the law? Will she as a judge subordinate herself to the Constitution and keep her political views at bay?” he said.

Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Kagan would be pressed to explain her role, while dean at the Harvard law school, in limiting military recruiting because of the Pentagon’s policy of barring openly gay soldiers.

Cornyn said the hearings could be as much about Obama as his high court nominee. “Clearly this president is trying to get somebody through who has a very sparse record and who he believes will be a reliable vote on the left wing of the United States Supreme Court,” Cornyn said.

Obama rejected that argument. In a news conference at the conclusion of the weekend’s G-20 summit in Toronto, he said Kagan “has the support, by the way, of a number of very conservative jurists who she’s worked with. So, as I examine some of the arguments that have been floated against her nomination over the last several weeks, it’s pretty thin gruel.”