Obama cites 'temperament' of Kagan, Supreme Court nominee
President Obama notes consensus-building as a key attribute of Elena Kagan, his Supreme Court pick. She was the first female dean of Harvard Law School and the first female US solicitor general.
President Obama on Monday nominated Elena Kagan to fill the US Supreme Court seat of retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. If confirmed by the Senate, Ms. Kagan would become the fourth woman to serve as a justice and would increase to three the number of women currently on the nine-member court.Skip to next paragraph
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Kagan is the former dean of Harvard Law School and has served since March 2009 as US solicitor general, the government’s chief lawyer at the high court. The solicitor general is sometimes referred to as the 10th justice because of the office’s close working relationship with the Supreme Court.
In introducing Kagan during a White House ceremony, Mr. Obama referred to her as “our solicitor general, and my friend.”
He said she is an acclaimed legal scholar and trailblazing leader who had broken the glass ceiling for women as the first woman to serve as solicitor general and the first woman to lead Harvard Law School.
“Elena is respected and admired not just for her intellect and record of achievement but also for her temperament,” Obama said, highlighting her skill as a consensus builder.
Kagan said she was honored and humbled by the nomination. “My professional life has been marked by great good fortune,” she said. But it has also been motivated in large part by love of the law, she added.
“Law matters,” Kagan said, “because it keeps us safe, because it protects our most fundamental rights and freedoms, and because it is the foundation of our democracy.”
A meteoric rise
Confirmation as a life-tenure justice would cap a meteoric rise by Kagan through some of the most prestigious corridors of the law to the pinnacle of her profession. At 50 years old, she is young enough to spend the next quarter-century helping guide the future course of American law.
Her nomination is seen as part of an Obama administration strategy of placing liberals on the high court who are capable of providing an intellectual counterforce to Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s conservative wing.
That strategy was apparent in the president’s references to the high court’s recent 5-4 decision striking down a portion of the federal campaign finance regulations dealing with corporate advertising near elections. Obama praised Kagan for agreeing to personally argue in defense of the law despite what he said were long odds of success.
“I think it says a great deal not just about Elena’s tenacity, but about her commitment to serving the American people,” Obama said.