Obama to Nominate Kagan, a Jew, for Supreme Court


us-supreme-courtPresident Obama has decided on whom he would like to nominate to take retiring Justice John Paul Stevens’ place on the Supreme Court bench, it was revealed last night. Obama is expected to announce this morning U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan as his nominee, according to sources familiar with the decision.

She has long been considered the leading candidate for the post, in part because of her reputation as a consensus builder at Harvard and her outreach to conservatives, reports CBS News chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford.

Known as sharp and politically savvy, Kagan has led a blazing legal career: first female dean of Harvard Law School, first woman to serve as the top Supreme Court lawyer for any administration, and now first in Obama’s mind to succeed legendary Justice John Paul Stevens.

At 50 years old, Kagan would be the youngest justice on the court, one of many factors working in her favor. She has the chance to extend Obama’s legacy for a generation.

Kagan has clerked for Thurgood Marshall, worked for Bill Clinton and earned a stellar reputation as a student, teacher and manager of the elite academic world. Her standing has risen in Obama’s eyes as his government’s lawyer before the high court over the last year.

Yet Kagan would be the first justice without judicial experience in almost 40 years. All of the three other finalists she beat out for the job are federal appeals court judges, and all nine of the current justices served on the federal bench before being elevated.

Kagan’s fate will be up to a Senate dominated by Democrats, who with 59 votes have more than enough to confirm her, even though they are one shy of being to halt any Republican stalling effort.

For the second straight summer, the nation can expected an intense Supreme Court confirmation debate even though, barring a surprise, Kagan is likely to emerge as a justice.

Supreme Court justices wield enormous power over the daily life of Americans. Any one of them can cast the deciding vote on matters of life and death, individual freedoms and government power. Presidents serve four-year terms; justices have tenure for life.

Republicans have shown no signs in advance that they would try to prevent a vote on Kagan, but they are certain to grill her in confirmation hearings over her experience, her thin record of legal writings and her objections to the military’s policy about gays.

When she was confirmed as solicitor general in 2009, only seven Republicans backed her.

Democrats went 15 years without a Supreme Court appointment until Obama chose federal appellate judge Sonia Sotomayor last year to succeed retiring Justice David Souter. Just 16 months in office, Obama has a second opportunity with Kagan, under different circumstances.

Obama’s decision last year centered much on the compelling narrative of Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, who grew up in a housing project and overcame hardship.

This year, Obama particularly wanted someone who could provide leadership and help sway fellow justices toward a majority opinion. The president has grown vocal in his concern that the conservative-tilting court is giving too little voice to average people.

Kagan is known for having won over liberal and conservative faculty at the difficult-to-unite Harvard Law School, where she served as dean for nearly six years.

Her background, including time as a lawyer and a key domestic policy aide in Bill Clinton’s White House, would give the court a different perspective.

The White House is expected to frame Kagan’s lack of service as a judge in upbeat terms, underscoring that there are many qualified routes to the top of the judiciary.

Kagan emerged over three other finalists – federal judges Diane Wood, Merrick Garland and Sidney Thomas. Wood, a veteran court presence in Chicago, has now come extremely close twice to being picked for the Supreme Court. She also interviewed with Obama last year.

Kagan, who is unmarried, was born in New York City. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Princeton, a master’s degree from Oxford and a law degree from Harvard.

She served as a Supreme Court clerk for one of her legal heroes, Justice Thurgood Marshall. And before that, she clerked for federal appeals court judge Abner Mikva, who later became an important political mentor to Obama in Chicago.

Kagan and Obama both taught at the University of Chicago Law School in the early 1990s.

In her current job, Kagan represents the U.S. government and defends acts of Congress before the Supreme Court and decides when to appeal lower court rulings.

Kagan would be the fourth woman to serve on the Supreme Court, following current Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor and retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

She would be the third Jewish justice along with six Catholics. With Stevens’ retirement, the court will have no Protestants, the most prevalent denomination in the U.S.

Quick Facts On Obama’s Nominee:

NAME — Elena Kagan.
BIRTHDATE-LOCATION — April 28, 1960-New York City.
EXPERIENCE — U.S. solicitor general, 2009-present; dean, Harvard Law School, 2003-09; professor of law, Harvard Law School, 2001; visiting professor, Harvard Law School, 1999-2001; deputy assistant to President Bill Clinton for domestic policy and deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council, 1997-99; associate counsel to President Bill Clinton, 1995-96; professor, University of Chicago Law School, 1991-95; worked in private practice, Washington, 1989-91; law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, 1987-88; clerked for Judge Abner Mikva of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, 1986-87.
EDUCATION — Princeton University, bachelor’s, 1981; Worcester College at Oxford, master’s, 1983; Harvard Law School, law degree, 1986.
QUOTE — “I like to think that one of the good things about me is that I know what I don’t know and that I figure out how to learn it when I need to learn it.”

{CBS Broadcasting/Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. She would not be the third Jewish Justice but the fourth: before her Justices Brandeis, Frankfurter, and Ginsburg.

  2. given her lifestyle and philosophy, that’s like being proud that the greatest Ponzi schemer in history is a “Jew”

    or is this an installment of the ongoing “chilul Hashem of the day” show.

  3. excerpt from her thesis in college. Marz and Trotsky were also Jews.

    “The story is a sad but also a chastening one for those who, more than half a century after socialism’s decline, still wish to change America. Radicals have often succumbed to the devastating bane of sectarianism; it is easier, after all, to fight one’s fellows than it is to battle an entrenched and powerful foe. Yet if the history of Local New York shows anything, it is that American radicals cannot afford to become their own worst enemies. In unity lies their only hope.” (pp. 129-130)

    Her political sympathies (at the time) seem quite clear — and radical.

  4. Why does it matter in the slightest whether she’s jewish or not !?!
    We should really be trying to find out if her values are in line with our’s !! Unfortuntely there have been a number of jewish people involved in various administrations who did nothing to help their fellow jews !! We as frum yidden have to show that merely “being jewish” is not enough to win us over, rather that we belive in certain things no matter who happens to be saying them at any given time!!

  5. 1) she already seems to have a reputation as a Rodeph Shalom, now it just needs to be channeled correctly, and

    2) She is single and sympathetic to toeivahs (in the military). Hope she is not of that persuasion.