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Obama Nominates Former U of C Prof Elena Kagan For SCOTUS

By Marcus Gilmer in News on May 10, 2010 2:20PM

Calling her "one of the nation's foremost legal minds," President Obama has nominated Solicitor General and former University of Chicago law school professor Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court. Kagan will replace the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, who will step down this summer. Kagan also worked under the Clinton administration and served as dean of Harvard Law School. If she is confirmed, it will mark the first time that the SCOTUS would have three sitting female justices. Of course, with any nomination, there will be partisan scrutiny and while Kagan is said to be a good pick because of her ability to appeal across the political spectrum, there are still some issues that opponents will go after. The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," policy and Kagan's brief ban of military recruiters from Harvard Law School's campus while she was dean will be a topic of conversation, even though Kagan did so within the law and the policy was no different than that of several other schools. Kagan will also face questions about her experience, specifically her lack of judicial experience. Per the New York Times:

M. Edward Whelan III, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, wrote on National Review’s Web site that even Ms. Kagan’s nonjudicial experience was inadequate. “Kagan may well have less experience relevant to the work of being a justice than any entering justice in decades,” Mr. Whelan wrote.

Ms. Kagan defended her experience during confirmation hearings as solicitor general last year. “I bring up a lifetime of learning and study of the law, and particularly of the constitutional and administrative law issues that form the core of the court’s docket,” she testified. “I think I bring up some of the communications skills that has made me — I’m just going to say it — a famously excellent teacher.”

Because of her involvement in certain cases as Solicitor General, if approved, Kagan would have to recuse herself from current cases she handled while in that position, just as Justice Thurgood Marshall did (for whom Kagan at one time clerked). Lynn Sweet profiles Kagan here and Media Matters gets a jump-start on the debate by breaking down and debunking myths and falsehoods surrounding Kagan.