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Switch to Forum Live View Obama to Nominate Kagan to Supreme Court - Your Thoughts?
4 years ago  ::  May 09, 2010 - 11:02PM #1
Merope
Posts: 10,168

NBC and Fox are reporting that Obama will nominate US Solicitor General Elena Kagan to succeed Justice Stevens on the Supreme Court.  Story here.


How 'bout that?

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4 years ago  ::  May 09, 2010 - 11:24PM #2
Merope
Posts: 10,168

Reportedly, Kagan has interviewed separately with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. 


Solicitor General since March 2009, Kagan is a former dean of the Harvard Law School and the former Charles Hamilton Houston Professor of Law at Harvard.  Previously, she was a professor of law at the University of Chicago Law School.  She also served as Associate White House Counsel in the Clinton administration.


Kagan — who would be the fourth woman ever nominated to the Supreme Court — is a graduate of Princeton, Oxford, and Harvard Law School.  With these outstanding academic credentials, her appointment would continue the trend of appointment of Ivy League- and Oxbridge-educated lawyers to the Court.  Further on the demographic front is that Kagan just celebrated her 50th birthday last month; her relative youth is seen as a plus for a lifetime appointment to the Court.


Where Kagan's appointment would break a trend is that she has not served as a judge, federal or state.  While that's unusual of late, it is not without outstanding precedent — the late Justice William O. Douglas being one brilliant case in point.


Last year, the Senate confirmed Kagan's appointment as solicitor general with relative ease.  It was reportedly well-known at the time that Obama might eventually send her name to the Hill again for a position on the Court.  And, as it happens, Kagan was also a finalist for last year's Court nomination that eventually went to then-Judge Sotomayor. 


On NBC's Meet the Press this morning, Attorney General Eric Holder (Kagan's boss :-) said of Kagan, "She's done a wonderful job in the Justice Department. I've known her since the Clinton years. And I think she would be a great justice."

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4 years ago  ::  May 10, 2010 - 1:13AM #3
mountain_man
Posts: 39,667

She sounds smart, articulate, educated, and experienced... all of which should make the conservatives hate her. Conservatives are afraid of powerful women they can't control. We need more honest judges to balance out the threat from these reconstructionist, activist, conservative judges.

Dave - Just a Man in the Mountains.

I am a Humanist. I believe in a rational philosophy of life, informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by a desire to do good for its own sake and not by an expectation of a reward or fear of punishment in an afterlife.
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4 years ago  ::  May 10, 2010 - 9:21AM #4
TemplarS
Posts: 6,865

I suspect the lack of judicial experience, more particularly the lack of any track record of issuing decisions based on constitutional criteria, will make some on both sides nervous. 


Another interesting fact.  Kagan is Jewish, meaning that for the first time in history, there will be 3 Jewish Justices and no Protestant Justices sitting on the Court. 


 

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4 years ago  ::  May 10, 2010 - 9:57AM #5
Merope
Posts: 10,168

May 10, 2010 -- 9:21AM, TemplarS wrote:

I suspect the lack of judicial experience, more particularly the lack of any track record of issuing decisions based on constitutional criteria, will make some on both sides nervous.



Agreed.  Personally, it doesn't make me nervous and I don't think it should be a bar to confirmation of her nomination to the Court.  I think the framers were very wise in not requiring prior judicial experience as a qualification for appointment to the Court.


Interestingly, Kagan served as law clerk to Justice Marshall when he was on the Court.  So she's spent time in the Court's chambers, which is a not insignificant component of her qualifications.


And, as it happens, Clinton nominated her to a seat on the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.  However, the Senate — under a Republican majority at the time — never brought her nomination to the floor for a vote.


Well, we shouldn't be surprised at Obama's nomination of a candidate without judicial experience.  He's been hinting at such an appointment since Justice Souter's resignation last year.


If memory serves, the last two Supreme Court Justices appointed without prior judicial experience were William Rehnquist and Earl Warren.  Each went on to become Chief Justice and each left his indelible mark as Chief on the Court and the country — with Warren arguably the most historically significant Chief of the 20th century.

 

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4 years ago  ::  May 10, 2010 - 10:02AM #6
Marcion
Posts: 2,883

May 10, 2010 -- 9:21AM, TemplarS wrote:


I suspect the lack of judicial experience, more particularly the lack of any track record of issuing decisions based on constitutional criteria, will make some on both sides nervous. 


Another interesting fact.  Kagan is Jewish, meaning that for the first time in history, there will be 3 Jewish Justices and no Protestant Justices sitting on the Court. 


 




The fact that she is Jewish has no bearing on her qualifications as supreme court judge. This is twenty first century America not 1950.

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4 years ago  ::  May 10, 2010 - 10:08AM #7
Merope
Posts: 10,168

May 10, 2010 -- 1:13AM, mountain_man wrote:

She sounds smart, articulate, educated, and experienced... all of which should make the conservatives hate her. Conservatives are afraid of powerful women they can't control. We need more honest judges to balance out the threat from these reconstructionist, activist, conservative judges.



The buzz on Kagan is that she served successfully as a bridge between conservative and liberal faculty during her tenure as dean at Harvard.  She also garnered seven Republican votes in her confirmation as Solicitor General.  There is thus the speculation that she may possess similar political skills to those of former Chief Justice Warren, which would make her an ideal choice for Obama, who has been known to want a counterweight to Chief Justice Roberts on the current Court.




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4 years ago  ::  May 10, 2010 - 10:19AM #8
Merope
Posts: 10,168

May 10, 2010 -- 10:02AM, Marcion wrote:

The fact that she is Jewish has no bearing on her qualifications as supreme court judge. This is twenty first century America not 1950.



Agreed, and I think Templar would agree with you, as well.  As does Justice Ginsberg, as it happens.


Nonetheless, Kagan's confirmation would be a historically significant milestone in this regard.  There is, for instance, no official photograph of the justices in 1924.  That's because the Court had to cancel its portrait that year owing to Justice James McReynolds' refusal to sit next to Justice Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish justice, for the portrait. 


We have come a long way since then.


If Kagan's nomination is confirmed, the religious affiliation demographic on the Court will be six Catholic justices and three Jewish justices.

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4 years ago  ::  May 10, 2010 - 10:48AM #9
Jeanninehunter
Posts: 168

According to a White House blog post Monday, "every Solicitor General over the last quarter century – Democrats and Republicans – wrote a letter of support for her nomination to that post, noting her 'brilliant intellect,' 'candor,' and the 'high regard in which she is held by persons of a wide variety of political and social views.'"


Announcement of the nomination occurs while the president is addressing several pressing issues. Considering her background and appeal to leaders in both parties as well as the timing, I don't expect a drawn out confirmation process.

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4 years ago  ::  May 10, 2010 - 10:50AM #10
Nepenthe
Posts: 2,720

May 10, 2010 -- 10:08AM, Merope wrote:

The buzz on Kagan is that she served successfully as a bridge between conservative and liberal faculty during her tenure as dean at Harvard. 



Why wouldn't a seemingly progressive president not want a progressive nominee?  Dems are going to blindly support his choice, while Repubs will oppose, pretty much no matter who he chooses.  So why choose someone close to the center, who will probably move the court further to the right than it already is.


From Glenn Greenwald

The New York Times this morning reports that "Mr. Obama effectively framed the choice so that he could seemingly take the middle road by picking Ms. Kagan, who correctly or not was viewed as ideologically between Judge Wood on the left and Judge Garland in the center."  That's consummate Barack Obama.  The Right appoints people like John Roberts and Sam Alito, with long and clear records of what they believe because they're eager to publicly defend their judicial philosophy and have the Court reflect their values.  Beltway Democrats do the opposite:  the last thing they want is to defend what progressives have always claimed is their worldview, either because they fear the debate or because they don't really believe those things, so the path that enables them to avoid confrontation of ideas is always the most attractive, even if it risks moving the Court to the Right. 


And here is a list of possible negatives from Greenwald.  Here is point number three:


(3) Following up on the article published yesterday in Salon by four minority law professors -- which condemned Kagan's record on diversity issues as "shocking" and "indefensible for the 21st Century" -- Law Professor Darren Hutchinson of American University School of Law today writes that Kagan's record is "abysmal." 


Regardless of your particular views on these matters, that diversity is both vital and fair in the hiring process has long been a central plank in progressive thinking.  It takes little creativity to imagine what Democrats would say about a Republican Supreme Court nominee with a hiring record similar to Kagan's.  The question is whether they will be as consistent as these law professors are in applying their claimed beliefs to their own side.  This is the issue that caused Linda Monk to rescind her endorsement of Kagan.  Will Kagan-defending progressives now suddenly say that diversity is irrelevant?  Will they try to claim that there were no qualified minorities for the Harvard Law School faculty?  How will they reconcile everything they've always said about diversity with Kagan's record as Dean?


 


I am in complete agreement concerning what would happen if the tables were turned.  Had President Bush nominated a conservative with a hiring record such as this, that person would be crucified up and down the blogsphere by progressives and editorial boards.


 

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.
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