Thank you for contacting me regarding the nomination of then Solicitor General Elena Kagan to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. I greatly appreciate hearing your thoughts on this important nomination. I apologize for my delayed response.
On May 10, 2010, President Obama nominated Solicitor General Kagan to the Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. The Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings, beginning on June 28th, to closely examine Solicitor General Kagan’s record and ask questions of her and a variety of witnesses. On July 20th the committee approved her nomination, and she was confirmed by the full Senate on August 5th. I voted in support of her nomination, along with a bipartisan majority of my colleagues. On August 7th, she was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
After attending Princeton University, Oxford University, and Harvard Law School, Justice Kagan worked as a clerk on both the Federal Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court under Justice Thurgood Marshall. After working in private practice, Justice Kagan began her career as a professor, teaching at the University of Chicago Law School. In 1995, she worked under President Clintion as Associate White House Counsel and then was named Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council. After her service in the White House, Justice Kagan returned to academia, becoming a professor at Harvard Law School and in 2003 she became the first women ever to be named Dean of Harvard Law School.
While I understand your concerns regarding several issues on which Justice Kagan commented during her tenure as Dean of Harvard Law School and as White House Counsel, I believe she will be a moderate and thoughtful Justice on the United States Supreme Court. She has repeatedly insisted that the military had full access to the students at Harvard Law at all times. In fact, during her tenure as Dean, the number of military recruits actually increased, not decreased. Additionally, the American Bar Association (ABA) unanimously found Justice Kagan to be “well-qualified,” which is the highest rating the ABA gives to judicial nominees. Finally, she was endorsed by many prominent figures from both parties, including the eight Solicitors General that preceded her, a group comprised of members from the Reagan, Clinton, and both Bush administrations.
I want to make my position on Supreme Court nominees clear – I believe a justice’s duty is to uphold the law, not make the law. In analyzing a nominee’s record, I do not impose any litmus test, but I do pay particular attention to where he or she stands on privacy, civil rights and liberties granted under the Constitution.
I believe Justice Kagan will be an extremely well-qualified, mainstream justice. Given her commitment to the rule of law, along with her wide range of work in academia, the federal judiciary, and the White House, I believe she will make an excellent addition to the United States Supreme Court.