The President has always viewed nominating new Justices to the Supreme Court as one of his most important responsibilities, and his nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan reflects the results of a careful and thorough search across America’s exceptional pool of legal talent.
Widely regarded as one of the nation’s leading legal minds, Solicitor General Elena Kagan has forged a path-breaking career in the law and in government service, distinguishing herself throughout by her penetrating intellect, unwavering integrity, sound judgment and prodigious work ethic. Her family taught her the value not just of education, but of service, and instilled in her an understanding of how the law affects the lives of working Americans.
She was the first woman to serve as Dean in Harvard Law School’s 186-year old history. And she was the first woman to serve as Solicitor General – the lawyer who represents the United States Government before the Supreme Court. Of the 111 justices who have served on the Supreme Court, only three have been women. Kagan would be the fourth, and this Fall, for the first time in history, three women would take their seats on our nation’s highest court.
As an academic, her scholarship focused on issues ranging from freedom of speech to government policy making – issues with a profound effect on our daily lives. As a White House lawyer and policy aide, she played lead role in working with Democrats and Republicans on legislation to prevent tobacco companies from targeting children with deceptive advertising practices and addictive products. As a law school Dean, she turned a fractious institution into a united one, and inspired students to use their legal training to serve their communities. And as Solicitor General, she has defended before the Supreme Court Congress’s efforts to protect shareholders’ rights, to implement bipartisan campaign finance reform, and to preserve the national security interests of the United States.
With an unparalleled ability to bring together people of different backgrounds and beliefs, she has earned praise across the political spectrum for her fair-mindedness, even-handedness, and insistence that all views deserve a respectful hearing. Every Solicitor General over the last quarter century – Democrats and Republicans – wrote a letter of support for her nomination as Solicitor General, noting her “brilliant intellect,” “candor,” and the “high regard in which she is held by persons of a wide variety of political and social views.” And her nomination to the Supreme Court is receiving similarly wide support from members of the legal community across the ideological spectrum.
Elena’s father was a housing lawyer devoted to the rights of tenants. Her mother was a public school teacher committed to helping her students realize their potential. They sent Elena to an all-girls public high-school where she learned that she could achieve any goal she sought. Following in her parents’ footsteps, Elena became a lawyer like her father, using her legal training to serve others, and a beloved teacher like her mother, inspiring the next generation of students to use their legal training to improve lives and communities.