Monday, May 10, 2010

Obama selects Kagan as his Supreme Court pick

President Barack Obama has selected Solicitor General Elena Kagan as his pick for Supreme Court Justice, replacing the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

Stevens was considered the leader of the "liberal bloc" of justices on the Court, serving for over 30 years in that post. His retirement is a significant departure as a leading voice within the Supreme Court.

Kagan comes with a stellar background, though none of it contains any real judicial experience. A former dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan took the reins of the prestigious academic institution amid growing tension among liberal and conservative professors, fostering an environment of understanding and cooperation among the feuding factions.

Speaking to the group of conservative professors, Kagan told them that she was herself a liberal. But she did emphasize that, despite her ideological differences, she wouldn't stifle the work of others she disagreed with simply because it didn't coincide with her views.

In 2009, Obama nominated Kagan to serve as solicitor general, and has since argued six cases before the Supreme Court (including the Citizens United case). Lacking actual judicial experience, serving in the post of solicitor general is perhaps the next best thing to having the familiarity necessary to serve on the High Court.


Elena Kagan is not the most liberal choice Barack Obama could have made for the Supreme Court. She is, however, a left-leaning legal genius who is able to build coalitions between conservative and liberal interests, a quality that will be beneficial when you consider the Court's even divide and swing vote in Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kagan could prove to be the negotiator on the left that could draw Kennedy to the side of the liberal bloc in cases where a split is imminent -- an occurrence that is becoming commonplace on today's Court. It looks like she will receive an easy confirmation as well within the U.S. Senate, since she was confirmed last year by the same body to be solicitor general.

She wouldn't have been my first choice if I were in Obama's shoes. However, she is definitely a choice I can support, and will support during the confirmation process. For all other skeptical liberals out there, I suggest the same attitude: she's on our side, and may draw more centrists in the legal community towards our ideas. What more could you ask from a Supreme Court nominee?

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