President Obama announced the nomination of Elena Kagan to the United States Supreme Court this morning. Ms. Kagan is the Solicitor General. If confirmed by the Senate, she would become the third woman on the Court, as well as its youngest member, at age 50. Obama described her as “an acclaimed legal scholar with a rich understanding of constitutional law.” Ms. Kagan is the first nominee since the early 1970’s to never have served as a judge. She was the Dean of Harvard Law School for many years, worked as a domestic policy advisor during the Clinton administration, and also worked for Vice President Joe Biden.
Reactions to Ms. Kagan’s nomination are somewhat mixed. Some liberals are concerned that she would be a far less progressive thinker than Justice John Paul Stevens, whom she would replace. Some conservatives are already labeling her as “anti-military,” referring to her attempt to ban military recruitment at Harvard during her tenure there, as a means of protesting the military’s “don’t ask don’t tell” policy towards gays. Nonetheless, many political analysts predict a relatively smooth confirmation process.
The dearth of a public record of Ms. Kagan’s judicial thinking will lead to increasing speculation as the nomination process unfolds. What would a Justice Kagan mean in the world of employment law? This is certainly an open question, and one the pundits will certainly attempt to answer in the coming weeks, as the battle lines are drawn in what promises to be a highly politicized and media-worthy issue. Stay tuned!