President Barack Obama (D) has announced his nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to replace U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who will retire at the end of the Court’s current term.
Kagan, at age 50, would be the youngest member of the Court, if confirmed by the Senate, and lacks the judicial experience that has been a hallmark of nearly all sitting justices in recent memory. The Republican-controlled Senate refused to conduct a hearing on her nomination to a seat on the federal appeals court bench in 1999. She has served as Harvard Law School’s dean and has distinguished herself in argument before the Court on behalf of the U.S. government.
While Kagan lacks what Senators refer to as a “paper trail” of judicial opinions to indicate how she would rule on particular cases and issues, she did serve as a law clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall, a jurist she admires for promoting justice and understanding that the law affects the lives of ordinary people. She also took action at Harvard to challenge the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy which she said deprives “gay men and lesbians of the opportunity to serve their country.” A question that many commentators are asking about Kagan is whether she will follow the recent U.S. Supreme Court trend of favoring corporate interests. The president praised her for defending the “rights of shareholders and ordinary citizens against unscrupulous corporations.” He is hoping that she will be confirmed before the Court’s fall term begins in October. See Politico.com, May 5, 2010; The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Slate.com and The New York Times, May 10, 2010.