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And the Winner Is…Elena Kagan

May 10, 2010

Ok, not exactly Secretary Clinton or foreign policy related but being the liberal political junkie that I am, I was wondering if anyone has any thoughts or reaction to Obama’s selection of Elena Kagan to the SCOTUS?

From the NYT:

…After a monthlong search, Mr. Obama informed Ms. Kagan and his advisers on Sunday of his choice to succeed the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. He plans to announce the nomination at 10 a.m. Monday in the East Room of the White House with Ms. Kagan by his side, said the Democrats, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the decision before it was formally made public.

In settling on Ms. Kagan, the president chose a well-regarded 50-year-old lawyer who served as a staff member in all three branches of government and was the first woman to be dean of Harvard Law School. If confirmed, she would be the youngest member and the third woman on the current court, but the first justice in nearly four decades without any prior judicial experience.

That lack of time on the bench may both help and hurt her confirmation prospects, allowing critics to question whether she is truly qualified while denying them a lengthy judicial paper trail filled with ammunition for attacks. As solicitor general, Ms. Kagan has represented the government before the Supreme Court for the past year, but her own views are to a large extent a matter of supposition…

I’ll admit, as time has worn on I’ve become a big Elizabeth Warren fan (of Harvard Law and the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel) but I knew there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of him picking someone like Warren, who is a true advocate of the middle class (and also a brilliant legal mind). Don’t get me wrong, Kagan is brilliant too, but she’s not what I had in mind as a replacement for Warren Court scion John Paul Stevens.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Steve permalink
    May 10, 2010 10:32 am

    I really like Elizabeth Warren too- a straight-talking, no-nonsense woman who clearly would provide some balance to the pro-corporate SCOTUS.

    I’ll admit to not knowing a huge amount about Kagan other than what I’ve been reading over the past week. It sounds like this may be a bit of a stealth candidate and a lot of liberals are disappointed because she seems to be more in line with Obama and Bush’s views of expansive executive power and that makes me nervous.

    The other thing is it would be nice to have more educational diversity on the Court. Does every single Justice have to come from Harvard and Yale? There are some smart people who didn’t go to those two schools. Like….Elizabeth Warren! She teaches at Harvard now but she didn’t go to Ivy League schools if I remember correctly. I dare anyone to argue she’s not brilliant enough to be on the Court.

    • May 10, 2010 10:37 am

      OMG Steve, you’re actually channeling me! LOL.

      I agree with everything you said. I’m glad to find another Warren fan. When I first heard her name floated a while back my initial response was “ok, but why her?” and then the more I thought about it the more I thought she’d be perfect- I think Warren would have been a truly inspired, less traditional choice (kind of like having had Dr. Paul Farmer head USAID) which is part of the reason Obama would never select her. I think Obama is addicted to playing it safe and despite his lofty campaign rhetoric he’s pretty much Business As Usual. I also think he knows she’ll protect sweeping executive powers, which kind of defeats the purpose of checks and balances.


  2. Vcal permalink
    May 10, 2010 3:40 pm

    Hi guys:
    just came to say hello and ask if you knew that Hillary won the celebrity mom poll:
    see? when the public votes, HillARY IS UP!BBL

  3. Thain permalink
    May 10, 2010 5:21 pm

    I think she’s qualified but I think it’s another screw you to the progressive base that elected him. Like you said Stacey Kagan is believed to be more conservative on executive powers and terrorism-related stuff so he’s probably covering his own ass. I think Republithugs who are saying she’s no better than Harriet Miers are deluding themselves. Miers was just a total embarrassment.

  4. HillaryFan permalink
    May 10, 2010 5:23 pm

    I don’t know that much about her and it seems like other than her employment record, no one knows all that much, which I think Obama likes.

    I agree that she’s way more qualified than Miers.

  5. Tovah permalink
    May 10, 2010 5:25 pm

    I honestly don’t know that much about her either but I think Obama is deluded if he thinks that the GOP would support anyone he appointed. He’s like a little kid who wants their approval “please, please love me GOP.” Get over it Sparky, they just don’t and never will.

  6. May 10, 2010 11:32 pm

    I don’t know much about her except that she was a counsel in the Clinton administration, making her part of the Clinton tent under the Obama canvas in the White House. I am no judge of justices. I tend to go go the one big shining star on the resume. With Sotomayor it was ending the baseball strike in the last year my mom was alive to see baseball. With Kagan, I like her barring ROTC from Harvard law because of DADT.

    Anyhow, you can’t predict what they will actually do once they are on the bench. There have been surprises.

    This is why I should never be POTUS – I can’t pick justices. But if I were governor of NJ I would NOT have fired the only black guy on the NJ Supreme Court. My governor is a total lout!

  7. May 11, 2010 10:29 am

    The right wing focus on the ROTC/campus issue is a red herring. Virtually every law school did the same thing, including mine. She came up with a compromise used by most schools- ROTC wasn’t banned from recruiting at Harvard Law nor were they denied access to Harvard’s career services, they simply had to meet with students and do their recruiting somewhere other than the law school campus. That means they could go across the street. Harvard is a private institution and it makes perfect sense that as Dean of the HLS she would have to balance the school’s nondiscrimination policy with the rights of gay students and their supporters and also the rights of those wishing to do ROTC.

    Quite frankly, I don’t think it’s a big deal.

    I think she is clearly qualified – I just wish I knew more about her judicial philosophy and I’ll be honest, I don’t entirely trust Barack Obama these days. I hope she’s truly a progressive because that is needed on the Court.

    I think it’s great that everyone thinks she can build consensus because that’s what she did at HLS but the fact is, you can only build consensus with people who want to join you- it strikes me as rather naive that Obama seems to think that if only he can put some nice, collegial person with a history of reaching out to those with opposing viewpoints on the Court, they’ll be able to sway Justice Kennedy to siding with the more moderate wing of the SCOTUS. Did it occur to them that Justice Kennedy isn’t an idiot and that he will join the side of whomever’s judicial decision he agrees with? With Obama though, I think that consensus has come to mean unnecessary compromising of principles in order to appear post-partisan. There is a time for consensus and compromise at times, but not if it means tossing out core philosophical principles.

  8. hjp permalink
    May 11, 2010 4:18 pm

    I am of the opinion that the Supreme Court is setting itself up for a legal challenge, as to whether or not they are engaging in discrimination, by limiting the Court to Ivy League Graduates.

    The following applies to Kagan, just as it did to Sotomajor.

    This editorial was created by 160 Associated Press readers under a Creative Commons Share-Alike Attribution License 3.0 using MixedInk’s collaborative writing tool. For more about how it was created, see here. It can be republished only if accompanied by this note.

    Obamas Appointment of Sotomayor Fails to Offer Educational Diversity to Court.

    Sotomayor does not offer true diversity to our Supreme Court. The potential power of Sotomayor’s diversity as a Latina Woman, from a disadvantaged background, loses its strength because her Yale Law degree does not offer educational diversity to the current mix of sitting Judges. Once she walked through the Gates of Princeton and then Yale Law School she became educated by the same Professors that have educated the majority of our current Supreme Court Justices, and our Presidents.

    Diversity in education is extremely important. We need to look for diversity in our ideas, and if our leaders are from the same educational background, they lose the original power of their ethnic and gender diversity. The ethnic and gender diversity many of our current leaders possess no longer brings a plethora of new ideas, only the same perspective they learned from their common Ivy League education. One example of the common education problem is that Yale has been heavily influenced by a former lecturer at Yale, Judge Frank, who developed the philosophy of Legal Realism. Frank argued that Judges should not only look at the original intent of the Constitution, but they should also bring in outside influences, including their own experiences in order to determine the law. This negative interpretation has influenced both Conservatives and Liberals graduating from Yale. It has been said that Legal Realism has infested Yale Law School and turned lawyers into political activists.

    A generation of appointees with either a Harvard or Yale background, has the potential to distort the proper interpretation of our Constitution. America needs to decentralize the power structure away from the Ivy League educated individual and gain from the knowledgeable and diverse perspectives that people from other institutions can provide. We should appoint Supreme Court Justices educated from amongst a wider group of Americas Universities.

    Harvard –

    Chief Justice John Roberts
    Anthony Kennedy
    Antonin Scalia
    Stephen Breyer
    Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Harvard, Columbia)


    Samuel Alito – Yale JD 1975
    David Souter
    Clarence Thomas – Yale JD 1974
    Sonia Sotomayor – Yale JD 1979

    Northwestern Law School.
    Justice John Paul Stevens

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