May 10, 2010

Obama names Kagan as Supreme Court nominee

Posted: 10:31 AM ET

(CNN) - President Obama named Solicitor General Elena Kagan on Monday as his nominee to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court.

Kagan, 50, a New York native, has been widely reported to be the front-runner for the nomination. She was a finalist for the high court vacancy last year when Justice Sonia Sotomayor was selected to replace the retiring David Souter.

If confirmed, Kagan would be the third woman on the nine-justice bench and the fourth in the history of the court. Her confirmation also would mean that the Supreme Court would have no Protestant justices for the first time in its history. Kagan, who is Jewish, would join six Catholic and two Jewish justices; Stevens is Protestant.

Kagan received her law degree from Harvard University, where she later served as dean of the law school. She previously served in the Clinton administration as associate White House counsel.

Obama decided on Kagan as his nominee on Sunday and called her around 8 p.m., a source close to the process said.

He did not have to look far when considering Kagan. As solicitor general, she is the administration's top lawyer before the Supreme Court and has argued several high-profile cases before the justices since taking the job in spring 2009.


Filed under: CNN • Supreme Court

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Ted   May 10th, 2010 11:50 am ET

It is not important what religion the justices have, – after all we have a separation of government and religions -, we should have the best, regardless male or female.
Justice Kagan will be a fine adition to our highest court.

Smith in Oregon   May 10th, 2010 1:52 pm ET

As I have previously tried several weeks ago to help inform the Anderson Cooper AC360 Blogging audience in regards to the Next US Supreme Court jurist, only to find all attempts were deleted for no apparent reason nor cause, go figure!

I'll try to comment here with LKL's blogging audience in the spirit of discussion and information.

As I had previously tried to outline and underscore Solicitor General Elena Kagan as the best possible foil by President Obama against US Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts.

Chief Justice Roberts nominated of course by Bush jr. is the best friend Big Oil, Big Coal and Big Pharma could possibly ever have in the highest US Court in the land. I'll bypass my previous outline of Elena Kagan, her accomplishments and previous efforts which Anderson Cooper's moderators apparently deleted several weeks ago.

The decades of Republican led administrations have built up a Republican led majority including US Supreme Jurist Roberts and that posse has repeatedly ruled in 5-4 in many of the recent cases before the US Supreme Court.

In the years ahead, I fully expect new US Supreme Court Jurist Elena Kagan to directly confront and challenge the ideology of Chief Justice Roberts in a long series of historic confrontations and ideologue challenges to Roberts special Corporate interests.

Hopefully one or more of the Republican planted US Supreme Court Jurists will resign during President Obama's second term in office and President Obama will have the opportunity to re-balance the US Supreme Court in alignment with the American People and away from it's current special interests protections.

IKHAN   May 10th, 2010 2:24 pm ET

Hi Larry,
My vote for what its worth is for Justice Kagan.
With her credentials she would bring a new dimension to the apex court.
However I already see the Obstructionist Party (GOP) ruffling their dirty feathers for blocking this nomination & causing the Obama admn unneccessary hardship. This country can ill afford these tactics.

Michael bassey   May 10th, 2010 3:05 pm ET

This make a whole lot of sense. But this an affront to the protestant.QED

Rose   May 10th, 2010 4:45 pm ET

It's interesting to note that Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, told Tea Party leaders in Washington, "I am an ordinary citizen from Omaha, Nebraska, who just may have the chance to preserve liberty along with you and other people like you."

An "ordinary citizen" whose husband is on the Supreme Court. She founded an organization that supports the Tea Party. Although Mrs. Thomas' work is not deemed a violation of ethical rules, it was suggested that her activism “is likely to test notions of political impartiality for the court" – per LA Times.

Geoffrey R. Stone, Professor of Law, University of Chicago, is an editor of The Supreme Court Review recently wrote:
Rulings by Conservative Justices in the past decade make it perfectly clear that they do not “apply the law” in a neutral and detached manner. Conservative judges' decisions:

– Corporations have the same right of free speech as individuals.
– Commercial advertising receives protection under the First Amendment.
– Second Amendment prohibits the regulation of guns.
– Affirmative action is unconstitutional.
– Equal protection clause mandated the election of George W. Bush.
– Boy Scouts have a First Amendment right to exclude gay scoutmasters.

Liberal judges have tended to exercise the power of Judicial Review to invalidate laws that disadvantage racial and religious minorities, political dissenters, people accused of crimes and others who are unlikely to have their interests fully and fairly considered by the majority. Liberal judges' decisions:

– Ended racial segregation.
– Recognized the principle of “one person, one vote".
– Prohibited censorship of the Pentagon Papers.
– Upheld the right to due process, even at Guantánamo Bay.

Stone further states: Pres. Obama was (wrongly) criticized by conservatives for his stance on "empathy" re: Sotomayor nomination. First, empathy helps judges understand the aspirations of the framers of the Constitution, who were themselves determined to protect the rights of political, religious, racial and other minorities. Second, it helps judges understand the effects of the law on the real world.

Faithfully applying our Constitution’s 18th and 19th century text to 21st century problems requires not only careful attention to the text, fidelity to the Constitutions framers’ goals and respect for precedent, but also an awareness of the practical realities of the present.

Meaning that Constitutional Law is not a mechanical exercise of just “applying the law.” Tea Party logic is problematic. They declare the US Constitution to be the basis for deciding what powers are vested to the Federal government. The Supreme Court has repeatedly interpreted the Commerce Clause in a very broad manner allowing the Federal government to greatly expand its powers. In 1964, the Commerce Clause was used to justify the Civil Rights Act.

I would love to hear Sarah Palin's explanation of the Tea Party's defense of the Constitution re: Judical review and its implications. Her usual word-salad will explode into an entire produce section afflicted with Tourette's syndrome. – So much for rhetoric without comprehension.

Smith in Oregon   May 10th, 2010 4:52 pm ET

In regards to Elena Kagan being a take no prisoners Jewish woman, I find it entirely refreshing bible thumpers have NO ONE in the US Supreme Court that even believes the bible thumpers are worth a single afternoon in a church with. The Catholic Jurists are thoroughly disgusted with their Pope also and rightly so!

Ironically bible bashers are foaming at the mouth that Elena Kagan wants nothing to do with their 'gospel', however Kagan supported their pathetic wooden cross in the middle of the mohave desert as some kind of wacked war memorial.

Did that wooden cross represent the Apache Native American's or any indigenous Native Americans that lived in that desert for a thousand years prior to being forced out by the US Military and secret US Airforce bases?

Joe G. (Illinois)   May 10th, 2010 7:03 pm ET

So why all the talk about religion..??
Borak Obama calls himself a Christian.
And after attending Jeremiah Wright sermons for decades he claimed that that he really didn’t know what the reverend was really talking about… And they elected him president, a Christian President not a Muslim president.

Rose   May 10th, 2010 7:22 pm ET

@ Smith in Oregon

Good points. The Mojave cross has been tied in litigation for years. The case was watched closely because it was the first church-state-separation dispute to come before the Supreme Court since John Roberts became chief justice.

The Court declared the cross was in violation of the US Constitution's First Amendment's establishment clause – stating that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion". Kagan did uphold the Congressional action of turning over the land to a veterans group but her only requirement was that the land be used as memorial, not necessarily that the cross be retained (up to veterans).

By a 5-4 margin, the Supreme Court recently allowed the cross to stay. Dissenting Justice Stevens wrote: "all those who have rendered heroic public service, regardless of creed," should "avoid endorsement of a particular religious view," when doing so.

The Mojave were subject to breaking up tribal ties, rooting out their beliefs, customs and native tongue, and "civilizing" them after the patterns of white men. Their English names were assigned to them by the administrators of the reservations' school systems. This arbitrary naming and division was done for purpose of appropriating and reallocating their ancestral lands.

So the bible thumpers and others can jump for joy at this decision to keep the cross in place. This dispute concerning religion, memorials, federal land, state-church violation etc ironically neglects the indigeneous people who lived upon it for thousands of years. A cross put up in 1934 seems to merit Supreme Court attention while an entire native culture is dismissed, dissolved. As we were the "winners" of taking these lands, a symbol of "our" deity must prevail by super-imposing itself on the desert landscape.

IKHAN   May 10th, 2010 10:23 pm ET

brilliant both your posts & enlightening
Fellow bloggers should benefit from this info. Much in our history that we tend to overlook or are made to overlook.
@Smith in Oregon
again an interesting point you broought up.

IKHAN   May 10th, 2010 10:33 pm ET

Hi Rick,
the Obstructionist Party is grabbing at straws to block Kagan nomination.
Her being Jewish & having no judicial experience is a lot of non-sense.
A large number of justices with no prior judicial experience have been appointed to the Supreme Court in the past.
There are great many Jews,upstanding, learned & courageous doing remarkable work against stacked up odds both here & in Israel. Its another matter that we don't hear or see them on the mainstream media.This being a deliberate attempt by the lobbies.
Allan C.Broomfeld, Adam Horowitz,Philip Weiss, Chomsky,M.J Rosenberg, Rabbi Brent Rosen to name just a few.
Read & hear them folks & you would wake up to what really is going on reg matters of vital interest to our country.

harry   May 11th, 2010 10:26 am ET

Is Harry Reid actually proud that Obama chose a person outside of the "judicial monastery" to be a judge not less a Supreme Court Judge. Is Obama's next appointment for Surgeon General going to be a mechanic?

Rose   May 11th, 2010 11:31 am ET

@ Ikhan

I agree with your post. Kagan being Jewish should not be an issue for anyone. She is well qualified and is a good choice by Pres. Obama. Whether Jew or Gentile, those who act based on what is ethical, fair, just and humane deserve support. Those who act based on religious bias (regardless of religion) instead of rationale is on poor footing.

This especially applies to supporting political causes based on religious books. That God gave a people certain land, based on texts written thousands of years ago by unknown authors. The indigeneous people driven out, generations in refugee camps. That those waiting for the second coming of their deity must blindly support (via strong lobbies in the US) what is written in these texts with complete disregard to the people who have lived upon the land for centuries. That illegal settlements are somehow in accord with "God's will". They put pressure on American politicians to support this myth-based cause with the reward of votes/donations if in compliance.

On going wars for decades. No logic, not humane, not just, continued deaths. The abuse of religion – same as the terrorists who use religion to murder. I would like to see a Supreme Court judge who will consider issues in a balanced manner without right wing conservative religious pressure foremost in their legal minds.

BTW: I had the privilege of seeing Prof. Noam Chomsky on several occasions. I spoke to him many years ago as an undergrad. I also had the privilege of meeting the late Prof. Edward Said (Columbia U, Orientalism etc) who spoke up for Palestinians rights. There were pro-Israeli groups preventing him from speaking shouting "Go home". Prof Said responded by saying: "That's the problem, I can't" – due to Zionist occupation of his land. The tragedy continues.

Rose   May 11th, 2010 12:11 pm ET

@ Harry

William Rehnquist never served as a judge (same as Kagan) and was appointed by Ronald Reagan to the Supreme Court. He presided as Chief Justice for nearly 19 years, making him the fourth-longest-serving one.

During confirmation hearings, Sen. Edward Kennedy challenged Rehnquist on his ownership of property that had a restrictive covenant against sale to Jews. Rehnquist has said he was unaware of discriminatory restrictions on properties he bought in Arizona and Vermont. The restriction on the Vermont property prohibits the lease or sale of the property to "members of the Hebrew race". The discriminatory language appears on the first page of the document – which Rehnquist did not apparently see. He was subsequently sworn in. This was acceptable under a Republican Administration.

And no, Obama's next appointment for Surgeon General will not be a mechanic. Mechanics, Joe the Plumber etc are in the realm of devices that the GOP resort to as desperate election tactics, along with their truly unqualified VP nominee. Kagan is light years ahead.

IKHAN   May 11th, 2010 1:58 pm ET

Hi Larry & folks.
very well said.
just goes to show how poorly informed are most of us.
@Harry. Sure hope you got it, man.Take care.

I hope & pray that we Americans also wake up to what really is happening reg Israel-Palestine issue. Yuri Avenry is another respected name from the Jewish community who we all need to hear.

Luis B. Rosario   May 11th, 2010 8:38 pm ET

Kagan is well qualified for the job but not because she Jewish
and anti-Christianianity/ Otherwise she will be disqualified.

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