Who Is Potential Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan, Anyway?

Ding dong, Justice John Paul Stevens is retiring! Surely you remember when President Obama nominated Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court last summer? Well, gird your loins, kiddies, because it’s time to do it all again.

White House gossips say Obama is considering about 10 possible replacements for Stevens and U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan is thought to be on the short list. (Hillary Clinton’s name is also being mumbled, but somehow I don’t see girlfriend ditching her Secretary of State post.) Let’s get acquainted with Elena Kagan, shall we?

  • Elena Kagan is the first woman in U.S. history to serve as solicitor general of the Justice Department, a position nominated by Obama. What does a solicitor general do, you ask? According to The Washington Post, the solicitor general argues on behalf of the government to the Supreme Court and is often refereed to as “the 10th Justice.” (Former Justice Thurgood Marshall was also a solicitor general.)
  • Before serving as solicitor general, Kagan was the first female dean of Harvard Law School, starting in 2003. Before that, she was at the University of Chicago law school and served in the Clinton administration as an associate White House counsel.
  • A New York City native, Kagan was educated at Princeton (’81), where she graduated summa cum laude in history, and Oxford (’83). She received her law degree from Harvard (’86). At Princeton, Kagan was editorial chairman of The Daily Princetonian newspaper and at Harvard Law, she was supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review. She’s 49 years old.
  • Why would Elena Kagan be a controversial nomination? In 2005, Kagan and about 40 other Harvard Law professors signed an “amicus curie” (friend-of-the-court) brief in support of a gay rights-focused lawsuit. The suit sought to limit the recruitment opportunities of the military on college campuses because of its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. In an email to Harvard faculty and students, Kagan called the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy “a profound wrong — a moral injustice of the first order.”

[Washington Post: “Elena Kagan – Candidates For The Court”]
[Washington Post: “Elena Kagan, Supreme Court Justice? Everything You Need To Know”]
[Wall Street Journal: “Kagan Foes Stress Gay-Rights Stand”]
[The Daily Princetonian: “Kagan ’81 Rumored To Be Top Candidate For Supreme Court”]