Elena Kagan: Supreme court pick has excelled as solicitor general

The Supreme Court building on a sunny day

Elena Kagan, supreme court nominee, is the solicitor general but has never been a judge: good or bad depending on which party you belong to. Flickr photo.

Elena Kagan, Supreme Court nominee to replace retiring justice John Paul Stevens, was announced Monday by President Barack Obama. Currently solicitor general, Elena Kagan as Supreme Court nominee is an interesting choice. Unlike every current member, if Kagan gets on the Supreme Court, she would be the only justice who has not been a judge. Preparing for a storm of objection from Republicans, the administration is saying that Kagan, Supreme Court nominee number two for Obama, was chosen in part because of her lack of judicial experience.

Elena Kagan, supreme court nominee

Elena Kagan on the supreme court is seen by many as a tremendous advantage for the administration in upcoming legal battles.  Future legal challenges to the recently passed health care reform bill and a financial reform bill that is under furious debate could very well end up before the supreme court. Kagan’s vote could sway rulings away from the those in favor of Wall Street and big business and toward supporting the health and financial future of average Americans undergoing credit counseling.

“She believes, as I do, that exposure to a wide array of perspectives is the foundation not just for a sound legal education but a successful life in the law,” the president said at a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. He said Kagan understands “people’s lives that might be changed by the law.”

Elena Kagan and supreme court swing votes

Elena Kagan as supreme court nominee is an attempt by Obama to select a persuasive consensus-builder, according to the New York Times. She is known for having won over liberal and conservative faculty at the difficult-to-unite Harvard Law School, where she served as dean for nearly six years. Kagan clerked for Thurgood Marshall, worked for Bill Clinton, and built a stellar reputation as a student, teacher and manager of the elite academic world. Kagan, on the supreme court, could influence the swing vote of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and soften the hard right slant of the court under George W. Bush appointee Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

Solicitor General Elena Kagan

Elena Kagan on the Supreme Court would be no surprise to those aware of her accomplishments. MSNBC reports that Kagan was the first woman to be dean of Harvard Law School and the first woman to be solicitor general of the United States, the top Supreme Court lawyer in a Presidential administration. If Kagan gets on the Supreme Court, it would be the first time in history three women justices would be serving at the same time.  If confirmed, she would, at 50, be the youngest justice and a lasting legacy on the court for Obama. Retiring justice Stevens is 90 years old.

As solicitor general, Elena Kagan represents the U.S. government and defends acts of Congress before the Supreme Court. If Elena Kagan were on the supreme court, she would be the first justice without judicial experience in almost 40 years. The last two were William H. Rehnquist and Lewis F. Powell Jr., whose nominations were approved by Congress in 1972.

Kagan,  supreme court front runner

Elena Kagan’s supreme court nomination has been fueling a debate about her experience ever since her name surfaced as a contender last month. The New York Times reports that some Republicans will argue that her resume as an academic, a government official and, for one year, the federal government’s chief advocate before the Supreme Court as solicitor general does not qualify her to be a Supreme Court justice. But Solicitor general Elena Kagan’s lack of judicial experience may help her confirmation prospects by denying Republicans a record of court decisions filled with ammunition for attacks.

Kagan, supreme court runner up

Elena Kagan, now the supreme court nominee, was a runner-up last year when Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor. When justice Stevens announced his retirement last month, Kagan was considered the front runner. As solicitor general, Kagan impressed Obama with her performance. She also worked for Vice President Joe Biden when he was a senator. At 50, she is the youngest candidate and would have the longest tenure if confirmed. Another advantage is that solicitor general Elena Kagan was confirmed by the Senate last year, which could make it hard for Republicans who voted for her then to vote against her now.

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