May 9, 2010

Looks like it's official:

President Barack Obama will nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, a person familiar with the president's thinking said Sunday night.

The move positions the court to have three female justices for the first time in history.

The source spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been made public. Obama will announce his choice at 10 a.m. Monday in the East Room of the White House.

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.

Media Matters says that conservative objections to Kagan are motivated by politics, not substance (a "no duh" statement if I ever heard one.):

Bill Kristol says he "endorsed Elena Kagan," but Republicans "should oppose her" anyway. On the April 11 edition of Fox News Sunday, when host Chris Wallace asked if Republicans' "decision as to how much of fight they want to make" over the nomination would depend in part on who Obama nominated, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol responded, "Not that much." Kristol added that while he "endorsed Elena Kagan" as a nominee, he believed that "most Republicans would oppose her and, honestly, should oppose her, with respect and with deference to her, you know, impressive academic credentials, because she will be a reliable liberal vote."

Conservative activist Viguerie signals that conservatives will paint any nominee as "radical." The New York Times reported in an April 16 article:

Richard Viguerie, a conservative fund-raiser who is developing direct-mail and Internet campaigns about the coming nominee, said conservatives relished the prospect of a fight with Democrats over the Supreme Court before the November election. "The more material he gives us to work with, the easier the battle will be," Mr. Viguerie said. "The more quickly we can identify that person as an ideological liberal, the easier it is for us to communicate to the American people how radical the president is and the nominee is."

Coulter urges "huge court battle" to benefit GOP election hopes. On April 12, conservative commentator Ann Coulter said: "A huge court battle is fantastic for Republicans. The reason the Democrats need the courts to legislate for them is their ideas are heinous to the American people. They can't win in democracy so they do it through the courts. This is always good to have a fight over the courts."

Hannity agreed that it was a good idea to have a court battle "whether you win or lose." In response to Coulter's statement that "it's always good to have a fight over the courts," Fox News host Sean Hannity said: "I agree with you, whether you win or lose."

Let the hackery begin.

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