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May 10, 2010
Solicitor General Elena Kagan, if confirmed to the Supreme Court, would be the first Justice to sit on the Court since Lewis Powell to have a background that does not include service on an appellate bench. General Kagan's background is primarily academic, and she seems to have been a very good (but probably not stellar) academic. We're going to hear about her decision to not allow the military to recruit lawyers in response to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy while she served as Dean of Harvard Law School, much will be made of her having had Barack Obama as a colleague while teaching at University of Chicago Law School, and she will be unusually vulnerable to questions about her beliefs on particular issues during her nomination in light of a law journal article in which she suggested it was appropriate for nominees to make such disclosures and that it was politically important that they do so. She's liberal, but that's not entirely a bad thing (at least, from a civil liberties perspective, which is what counts the most with me) and I can think of no serious objection to her nomination. It's a base hit, not a home run, for President Obama. (Judge Diane Wood would have been a somewhat more ambitious pick.)