Elena Kagan Wiki - Elena Kagan is President Barack Obama’s nominee to become the 112th Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Kagan currently serves as Solicitor General of the United States.
Elena Kagan is the first woman to hold the office of Solicitor General, having been nominated by President Obama on January 26, 2009, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 19, 2009. Kagan was formerly dean of Harvard Law School and Charles Hamilton Houston Professor of Law at Harvard University. She had also been a professor of law at the University of Chicago Law School. During the administration of President Bill Clinton, Kagan served as Associate White House Counsel.
On May 10, 2010, President Obama nominated Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court, filling the vacancy created by the impending retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens at the end of the Supreme Court’s 2009–2010 term. If confirmed, she would become the fourth female justice in the Supreme Court’s history, and the third on the current bench. She would also become the eighth Jewish justice in the Supreme Court’s history, and the third on the current bench.
Elena Kagan Early Life and Education: Kagan was born in New York City, the middle of three children of Gloria Gittelman Kagan and Robert Kagan. After graduating from Hunter College High School in 1977, Kagan earned a A.B. in history from Princeton University, summa cum laude, in 1981. At Princeton, she wrote a senior thesis under historian Sean Wilentz studying the socialist movement in New York City in the early 20th century. Wilentz remarked more recently, “One of the foremost legal minds in the country, she is still the witty, engaging, down-to-earth person I proudly remember from her undergraduate days.” As an undergraduate, Kagan also served as editorial chair of the Daily Princetonian.
She received Princeton’s Daniel M. Sachs Class of 1960 Graduating Scholarship, one of the highest general awards conferred by the university, which enabled her to study at Worcester College, Oxford University. She earned an M.Phil from Oxford in 1983. She received a J.D., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1986, where she was Supervisory Editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Elena Kagan Early Career: Kagan was a law clerk for Judge Abner Mikva of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court. She later entered private practice as an associate at the Washington, D.C., law firm of Williams & Connolly.
White House: From 1995 to 1999, Kagan served as President Bill Clinton’s Associate White House Counsel and Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council.
Solicitor General: On January 5, 2009, President-elect Barack Obama announced he would nominate Kagan to be Solicitor General. Before this appointment she had limited courtroom experience. She had never argued a case at trial, and had not argued before the Supreme Court of the United States. This is not uncommon, however, as at least two previous Solicitors General, Robert Bork and Kenneth Starr, had no previous appellate experience at the Supreme Court, though Starr served as a Circuit Court Judge prior to acting as Solicitor General.
Kagan was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 19, 2009, by a vote of 61 to 31, becoming the first woman to hold the position. She made her first appearance in oral argument before the Supreme Court on September 9, 2009, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
Indefinite detention without trial: At her confirmation hearing, Kagan also drew criticism for arguing that battlefield law, including indefinite detention without a trial, could apply outside of traditional battlefields. The New York Times paraphrases Kagan as saying “that someone suspected of helping finance Al Qaeda should be subject to battlefield law—indefinite detention without a trial—even if he were captured in a place like the Philippines rather than a physical battle zone.
Elena Kagan Supreme Court nomination: Long before the election of President Barack Obama, Kagan was the subject of repeated speculation that she might be nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States if a Democratic president were elected in 2008. This speculation greatly increased on May 1, 2009, when Associate Justice David H. Souter announced his intention to retire from the court at the end of June 2009. It was speculated that her new position as Solicitor General could increase Kagan’s already much discussed chances to be nominated, since solicitors general have often been considered potential nominees to the Supreme Court in the past. On May 13, 2009, the Associated Press reported that President Obama was considering Kagan, among others, for possible appointment to the United States Supreme Court. On May 26, 2009, however, President Obama announced that he was nominating Sonia Sotomayor to be the next United States Supreme Court Justice.
On April 9, 2010, Justice John Paul Stevens announced that he would retire as soon as the Court finished its current caseload in late June or July, triggering a new round of speculation around Kagan as a possible nominee to the bench. In a Fresh Dialogues interview, Jeffrey Toobin — a Supreme Court analyst and Kagan’s friend and law school classmate — speculated that Kagan would likely be President Obama’s nominee, describing her as “very much an Obama type person, a Democrat…” This possibility has alarmed many liberals and progressives, who worry that “replacing Stevens with Kagan risks moving the Court to the Right, perhaps substantially to the Right.”
As Kagan’s name was mentioned as a possible replacement for Justice Stevens, the New York Times noted that she “has supported assertions of executive power.” This view of vast executive power has caused some commentators to fear that she would reverse the delicate majority in favor of protecting civil liberties on the Supreme Court were she to replace Stevens.
On May 9, 2010, MSNBC and CNN reported that President Obama had chosen Kagan as his nominee to succeed Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. If confirmed, Kagan would be the first justice in nearly four decades without any prior experience as a judge. The last justice confirmed without prior experience as a judge was William Rehnquist in 1972.
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