New Nomination: Elena Kagan

Monday, May 10, 2010

The expected new pick for the Supreme Court is Solicitor General Elena Kagan. Join us for live coverage of this morning's press conference with Slate's senior legal correspondent Dahlia Lithwick.


Dahlia Lithwick

Comments [28]

Amy from Manhattan

I looked up the answer to my own question when I got home, & no, Earl Warren had never served as a judge before Eisenhower nominated him (county DA, state attorney gen'l., then governor). So 1 of our greatest Chief Justices was confirmed w/no judicial experience.

May. 10 2010 11:00 PM
Nick Lento from nj

Republicans never hesitate to appoint hard core ideologues like Thomas, Scalia, Roberts and Alito. Democrats tend to appoint establishmentarian moderates. The result is that we have a SCOTUS that is now leaning to hard core right wing ideology. The only somewhat mitigating factor is that Justice Kennedy will occasionally vote to take the edge off of the most extreme interpretations of the constitution.

For Obama to appoint one more establishmentarian moderate only continues this trend. The irony is that Republicans will still trash Kagan as if she were some kind of left wing radical and use her nomination to terrify their base into thinking the country is going to hell.

If the Republicans "succeed" in somehow killing this nomination, I hope President Obama comes back with a real progressive that will pass with 50 plus one votes. That's how Justice Thomas got in and maybe it's time that there was at least one person on the court who is as progressive as Thomas is regressive!

May. 10 2010 11:52 AM
DAT from Nathan Straus Projects

I think Obama struck gold, with his
appointment of Upper West Sider,
Elena Kagan as Supreme Court Justice.

The more I read about her, see and hear
her, the more I think Ms. Kagan is an
excellent choice.

I think ordinary human beings, will have
fair shot, with someone like Ms. Kagan
on the bench.

I wonder how Roberts and Scalia are going
to handle having a gay person as an equal,
sitting on the bench, right next to them.

May. 10 2010 11:19 AM

Of course, appointing a Muslim Supreme Court Justice would require cojones, which I used to think Obama had . . .

May. 10 2010 11:18 AM

I really wish Obama could have found a Muslim for the Court. Islam has such a deep and rich jurisprudential tradition, and having a Muslim Justice on the Supreme Court could go a long way towards normalizing Islam for middle Americans, and Americanizing Islam--which both IS happening, and NEEDS to happen. How long did it take from large-scale Jewish migration to America before we had a Jewish Justice? Does anyone know offhand?

May. 10 2010 11:14 AM
kai from nj-nyc

...and Obama's unwavering support of executive power also makes him more centrist and establishmentarian than left-of-center, something mentioned by Hugh, below.

May. 10 2010 11:08 AM
kai from nj-nyc

@Hugh - I'm with you on most things, and again with your characterization of Obama, and probably Kagan, as centrists. My only quibble would be that they are truly centrists, not center-right, as they might have been considered a generation ago. In the U.S. political scene of today, there is such a large reactionary, right-wing element that it would make Barry Goldwater blush. Granted, many of them are ill-informed, politically schizophrenic and often don't see the internal inconsistencies with regards to policy and their own reality, but the sentiment for little to no government is present even if untenable.

Regardless, Obama is certainly a corporatist - not a socialist people!- who likes to build on compromise, both of which lend itself to getting things done to suit the lowest common denominator, never radical departures. People who think Obama's policy and program objectives are radical simply don't want to do anything to change the status quo at all, live in a [mentally constructed] glorious past that never/no longer exists, and oftentimes are afraid of the vagaries of globalization and modernity (something that can and needs to be addressed).

May. 10 2010 11:01 AM
The Truth from Becky

JOHN from the O: "appears gay?" That is what is wrong with people! How ever do you get through your day with your foot in your mouth?

May. 10 2010 10:44 AM
RJ from prospect hts

I'm not sympathetic to "my religion isn't represented on the board" positions. It'll be a cold day in h*ll before my atheism is represented. What i want to know is the moral guidelines the justice represents, no matter which book it comes from.

May. 10 2010 10:42 AM
The Truth from Becky

Funny how people want the rest of the world to sympathy with their own personal causes. No protestants? How long has their been a protestant holding that seat? Exactly.

May. 10 2010 10:41 AM
Barbara from NJ

I'm the Barbara who spoke this morning. I think Dahlia Litwig (sp?) hit the nail on the head about Elena when she pointed out that Roberts acted like an advocate and Elena like a judge.

If I wanted a passionate advocate to represent me, I might not choose Elena, but if I wanted someone persuasive, there's no one better.

May. 10 2010 10:39 AM
The Truth from Becky

Caller: you will have no one you can "identify" with?? Seriously?? Think of the rest of America who for years have had and still have no Justice they can identify with...selfish.

May. 10 2010 10:38 AM

To the white anglo saxon protestant who called in. Hey I am a Hindu and South Asian. There is no one like me on this court. And, you know what? I don't have a problem with it!

May. 10 2010 10:38 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Earl Warren was governor of California when he was nominated to the Supreme Court. Had he served as a judge before that?

May. 10 2010 10:37 AM

As Glenn Greenwald and others have noted, Republicans and conservatives have felt no need to move to the center in their nominations. Bush named Alito and Roberts — two hard-core right-wingers.

So why does Obama feel the need to "compromise" by moving to the center? My answer is that he is not himself a liberal. He is center right. He has a few liberal positions on social issues, but on executive power, on foreign policy, on 1st Amendment rights, Obama is center right.

My guess is Kagan is, too. Moreover, I think that Kagan shares an important trait with Obama -- self-serving opportunism.

May. 10 2010 10:34 AM
ellen in Manhattan from New York

We're about to see how influential the Tea Party is in Congress and I doubt they will support her. They will quickly make light oft her reaching out to conservatives and paint her, to use an old term, a "flaming liberal" and they won't need to mention her being Jewish and from New York -- I think they'll find plenty of evidence to support it. It's too bad; she comes from a tradition I grew up with that my father shared as a lawyer in the 40's, the obligation to support the less powerful, the unrepresented.

May. 10 2010 10:33 AM
Robert from NYC

Bear in mind when she appeared as Solicitor General she was arguing for the administration not from her own point of view! An excellent point brought up by Glen Greenwald this morning on Democracy Now. As he states we don't know anything about her point of views and opinions on issues as she has not left a real record... cautiously so?

May. 10 2010 10:33 AM
Andy from Brooklyn

"Appears gay," John? I was listening to the press conference on the radio, I didn't see the video --- was she wearing a rainbow suit with a big "I'm gay!" button on her lapel?

May. 10 2010 10:30 AM
Rowena from Queens

I went to Hunter College High School (but not with Elena Kagan, I graduated last year), and
I'm completely thrilled that one of our number has received such an honor. I am filled with pride for Hunter! I'm planning to go into law, and I hope that I'll be able to follow in her footsteps.

May. 10 2010 10:29 AM
Daniel W. from Brooklyn

Mr. (Irving) Kagan, brother of Elena, was my social studies teacher at Hunter College High School in 1986-87, which I believe was his first year as a teacher. He wasn't all that much older than us ninth graders and managed to combine an air of tweedy intellectual authority with the sense that he truly understood what we were going through. Still have fond memories of his allegory of the Hobbes, Locke and the ham sandwich.

May. 10 2010 10:28 AM

Is being smart supposed to be a sufficient condition for being a Supreme Court justice?! How about John Yoo or David Addington then!

Kagan has to be something more than smart. She has to have a sense of justice — not a sense of being _a justice_ — a sense of justice that is woefully absent in Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy. If Kagan sides with them on matters of executive power (an area where Obama has not departed AT ALL from the policies of Bush), then this country will suffer.

May. 10 2010 10:27 AM

John from office
"probably gay" how would we know this?

May. 10 2010 10:26 AM
Tony Jannetti from Lower east side

I wonder about the religious make-up of the court and its long-term implications.

May. 10 2010 10:25 AM
John from office

Why no comments on the choice of a GAY person. Ms. Kagan appears and is probably gay, which is not an issue for me, but there is no mention of this at all.

This is a bone to the gay vote.

May. 10 2010 10:24 AM

I'm wondering how pro-big business she will be. seems like nominees left or right are always ready to cut a break for the multinational corps

May. 10 2010 10:22 AM

The nominating of a supreme court justice is inherently flawed because the nominee is always a lawyer.

May. 10 2010 10:18 AM
Robert from NYC

Yes JK, that's the problem, he doesn't have the stomach for a fight. But what's most disturbing about that he always talks the talk and sounds like he's up for a fight but he rarely walks the walk on it. He's not the fighter I thought he would be. He lost me... but I'm salvageable.
BTW is Kagan a transexual? In which case she'd be the first.

May. 10 2010 10:05 AM

I'm very disappointed with Obama's choice of Kagan since it proves that he doesn't have the stomach for a fight. Given the fact that Repubicans would make a stink over any nominee, Obama should have swung for the fences by picking the most leftwing jurist he could find.

May. 10 2010 09:11 AM

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