United States President Barack Obama nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the United Supreme Court, stating that his choice of Kagan, the former dean of the Harvard School of Law, is a chance to install one of the country’s premiere legal luminaries. Kagan is set to replace John Paul Stevens on the High Court. If she will be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, she will be only the fourth female justice at the Supreme Court, and the nation’s youngest justice at 50 years old.
But Kagan’s nomination to the High Court is believed to start a possible battle for the confirmation hearings for Kagan, set this summer, even before the court begins its first session (Associated Press 2010 ). The 50 year old Kagan is unmarried, holds a bachelors degree from Princeton University, a master’s title from Oxford University and acquired her degree in Law form Harvard University.
Kagan worked a clerk for former Chief Justice Thurgood Marshall, for president Bill Clinton, and also clerked for Federal Appeals Court justice Abner Mikva, who later on became a teacher to Obama while he was still in Chicago. At present Kagan is the current United States Solicitor General,. Her office is mandated to represent the government before the Supreme Court. Her office also has jurisdiction on when to lodge an appeal against lower court rulings (Associated 2010).
Critics of the potential justice, led by Senator Mitch McConnell, have stated that the nominee to the High Court is lacking in experience in judicial matters, but supporters of Kagan, including the President, have categorized the criticisms a a hollow argument against Kagan, Supporters of Kagan aver that contrary to the observations of McConnell, Kagan is rich in judicial experience, owing to her present position as the United States Solicitor General, and a former teacher and dean of the Harvard Law School.
In the diverse environment of the Supreme Court, Kagan is expected to make her own mark, as supporters believe that Kagan can utilize her knowledge in the analysis and application of the laws and issues bought before the Court (Ed Johnson 2010). Greg Craig, the former counsel for the White House, calls Kagan an industrious, intelligent lawyer with an immense wealth of knowledge in the field of law even though she is not a lawyer. Kagan also impressed Obama for the pioneering work she has done, being the first woman to become dean of the Harvard Law School and the first woman to be confirmed as Solicitor General.
In the hearings for her confirmation as Solicitor General, Kagan gained the support of the Democrats in Congress and some Republicans in the Senate. The Republican supporters in the Senate included two of the more conservatives on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senators Jon Kyi and Orrin Hatch (George Stephanapoulus, Ariane de Vogue 2010). Even though Kagan is new to the settings of the Supreme Court, the absence of actual court room experience doesn’t seem to bother the President.
Obama, in his choice of Kagan as his second nominee to the High Bench, averred that he wanted someone on the bench that will understand the effects of laws on the lives of the ordinary American. Majority Whip Dick Durbin also added that Kagan possessed the depth and the wealth of her experience will allow her to do just that, a sentiment shared by many Democrats in the Senate. The lack of actual experience is seen as a possible point of conflict with the Republicans, as this was the case of Harriet Miers, counsel for President George W. Bush and his nominee to the Supreme Court.
Miers was forced to withdraw her nomination over this fact, but is not seen to be the case with Kagan (Fox News 2010). Aside from her lack of actual litigation experience, Miers was also questioned on her intelligence and her readiness to assume the position as a justice of the Supreme Court. In the opinion of senior adviser David Axelrod, Kagan is one of the premier minds in the field of law. Apart from Kagan, if she is confirmed to be the fourth female to the High Bench, two other non lawyers were elevated to the Supreme Court-former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Lewis Powell, Jr.
were both confirmed as Supreme Court justices without any litigator background. The fact that Kagan has not argued any case before, according to Northwestern University law professor Robert Bennett, will prove to be a boon to Kagan. In Bennett’s opinion, Kagan’s position as Solicitor General will abet the fact that she still possesses no actual litigation experience, since the Solicitor General is regarded as the Tenth Justice of the Supreme Court (Fox News 2010).
Even Kagan’s plain looking resume is seen as an advantage by some Democrats in the Senate. In the observation of Senator Patrick Leahy, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, many of the past justices of the Court possessed little litigation experience, or had none at all, as is the case with Kagan. Leahy opined that the choice of Kagan will bring a variety of knowledge to the Supreme Court, with Senate Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid praising the President on his choice of nominees from outside the appellate court system.
It is expected that in the course of the hearings to confirm Kagan as a Supreme Court Justice, senators will not be burdened with rummaging through stacks of decisions, but through Kagan’s record as Solicitor General and her journals and her record at Harvard (Fox News, 2010). The points that the opposition may bring up against Kagan, according to observers, is the fact that Kagan, when she was still with Harvard, exerted efforts to ban military recruiters from getting into Harvard. Her actions were based on her opposition to the military’s policy on homosexual members serving openly in the military establishment.
Signing as an amicae curiae, or fiend of the court, Kagan argued against a law passed during the time of former United States President Bill Clinton ordering educational facilities that accept Federal funding to allow military recruiters on their campuses. Ruling on the matter, The Supreme Court rejected the motion of Kagan and sided with the Clinton law (Fox News 2010). Other topics that Republicans intend to use against Kagan to block her confirmation is her views on a controversial topic in the United States, abortion.
Sources in the news industry discovered that in 1997, Kagan, acting as an adviser in the White House in the Clinton administration, compelled Clinton to support a ban on late term abortion procedures. Kagan urged Clinton to accept a compromise proposal that would have effectively restricted the conduct of abortive procedures on fetuses that could be naturally born except in cases where the birth will pose a significant risk to the life of the mother. The proposal, crafted by Senator Tom Daschle, was supported by Clinton, despite massive opposition from groups supportive of abortion.
In the end the proposal was scrapped and Clinton went on to torpedo a Republican initiative that was viewed as more restrictive than the compromise proposal itself (Associated 2010). With a majority in the Senate, with the Democrats of President Obama holding 59 seats, Kagan is expected to win her confirmation as the next Supreme Court Justice. But the 41 Republican Senators, if they cast a unified vote, can delay the confirmation proceedings and engage in a filibuster in the session.
But Republicans in the Senate have not given any indications that they will engage in such actions, but what is certain is that they will grill Kagan with regard to her dearth of experience, her thin record of legal opinions and he conduct while she was Harvard. Republican Mitch McConnell, leader of the Republican contingent at the Senate, assured that the hearings will one that is exhaustive and should be viewed as steps that will arrive at a well though out decision, one that is not rash or hurried (Associated 2010). McConnell averred that judges, and justices, should not be stamps of approval of the government.
In his opinion, McConnell said that justices should not have a winner already in their minds even before the conduct of the trial. The leading Republican on the judiciary committee, Senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama, said that the deadline set by Obama is a feasible one, and that the lack of experience of Kagan would be considered as a weakness, but would not be enough to derail her bid from becoming a justice of the Supreme Court. But Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma indicated that he would oppose vehemently the nomination of Kagan to the Supreme Court.
Inhofe was angry with the disrespect, in his view, to the confirmation process at the Senate, and an absence of an ability to be able to accept opposing views to those that she holds (Associated 2010). Supreme Court justices exert an enormous amount of influence over the lives of ordinary Americans. One of them can cast a vote that will decide an issue regarding life and death, the rights that Americans enjoy and the interpretation of those rights with relation to the United States Constitution, and the amount of influence that the government can exert on the daily affairs of the citizens.
The United States President is confined to two four year terms, if they are re-elected. The justices on the Supreme Court have a tenure as long they are alive or they choose to retire, as in the case of Justice Stevens. Democrats have not placed a nominee to the High Court with Justice Sonia Sotomayor being the first Democrat appointed and confirmed justice in 15 years (Associated 2010). Works Cited Associated Press “Obama picks Elena Kagan fro Supreme Court.
” <http://www. msnbc. msn. com/id/36967616/ns/politics-supreme_court/> Fox News. “Kagan a courtroom novice no problem fro High Court, supporters say. ” <http://www. foxnews. com/politics/2010/05/10/kagans-judicial-inexperience-minor- hurdle-despite-early-criticism/> USA Today. “Kagan will soon carve out her own niche on court. ” <http://www. usatoday. com/news/opinion/letters/2010-05-18-letters18_ST_N. htm>