Monday, May 10, 2010

Elena Kagan

NBC is reporting that President Obama will name Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court to replaced retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

Here’s the TPM version.

She has never tried a case in court but was considered an early favorite for the job, causing intense speculation Friday as the White House defended her record and some publications said it was highly likely she’d be his pick. Kagan served as a clerk in the late 1980s for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and was a clerk for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. She worked at a private Washington law firm before taking a job in the Clinton administration.

Kagan is the first woman to hold the solicitor general post and until she took that position she was dean of Harvard Law School, also the first female to hold that job. Under her six-year tenure Kagan helped the law campus open new buildings and she updated the curriculum. She also was recognized for fundraising prowess. But Kagan banned military recruiters from campus, a sure lightning rod issue the GOP will focus on during her confirmation hearings.

She was a Harvard professor with courses on administrative law, constitutional law, civil procedure and issues involving the separation of powers until becoming dean in 2003. She was nominated to the Harvard dean position by Larry Summers, then Harvard president and now chief Obama economic adviser. She served in the Clinton White House’s Domestic Policy Council.

She and Obama both taught at University of Chicago law school. She attended Princeton and Oxford and, like Obama, received her law degree from Harvard. She also was one of the editors of the Harvard Law Review.

In March 2009 Kagan was confirmed by the senate on a 61-31 vote. Seven Republicans voted in favor of her nomination, joining all of the Democrats. (Sen. Arlen Specter – then a Republican – was among Kagan’s opponents.) Her nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals by President Clinton in 1999 was blocked by Republicans.

You can expect to hear new definitions of “radical” and “outside the mainstream” from folks like Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and she will catch flak for her stand on military recruiters, which will highlight her views on gay rights since her ban on the recruiters was based on the military’s refusal to admit openly gay soldiers. Interestingly, she’s also been the target of some progressives, notably Glenn Greenwald, who don’t think she’s been progressive enough.

But since Ms. Kagan was also in the run last year when David Souter retired — and has since been vetted already for both the Court and her job as Solicitor General — confirmation should be fairly straightforward. However, there are always little surprises, so brace yourself for a new revelation or buzzword like “wise Latina” that will become the mantra of the nay-sayers. And, of course, since she’s 50 and unmarried, be on the lookout for the veiled blunt Is-Kagan-Gay meme from the gay-sex-obsessed pervs on the right. Let’s see how Jeff Sessions brings that up.