There are a few things that make Elena Kagan, President Obama’s nominee to fill Justice Stevens’ seat on the Supreme Court, a more easily-confirmable nominee than others may have been:
- She has never been a judge before. In terms of confirmation, this is highly beneficial and eases the process. During Justice Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings– as well as those of quite a few other SCOTUS nominees– Republicans hammered her on controversial decisions that she had made. Kagan has made some controversial comments, but has never had to publicly make a major political/ judicial decision. She’d be the first justice in thirty eight years to be confirmed without having had previous judicial experience (William Rhenquist was the last one).
- She’s a woman. Kagan’s confirmation to the Supreme Court will make women 1/3 of the supreme court. While this is unprecedented, it should be, because women make up more than 51% of the population of the United States. (Also, she Jewish, which breaks the mold, as well.)
- She’s procured bipartisan support. As dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan re-shaped what had been widely recognized as a very liberal faculty. She tenured twenty new professors, many of them conservative. Since her nomination (and during the time she was being considered), several prominent conservative legal minds have spoken out in support of her and expressed their strong beliefs that Elena Kagan would be an excellent, honorable Supreme Court justice.
- She’s brilliant and overqualified. She went to Princeton for undergraduate, and received an A.B. in History. Went to Oxford and received a Masters degree in Philosophy. She went to Harvard Law and received her J.D. She clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall. She was a tenured law professor at the University of Chicago (coincidentally, right around the same time Barack Obama was there). She was Bill Clinton’s associate White House Counsel. Now, she serves as the United States Solicitor General, representing the United States Government in cases before the Supreme Court. She’s known to be one of the sharpest legal minds in the country.