Snap Fact #117
President Obama Appoints Highly Qualified and Diverse Justices To The Supreme Court That Reflect America!
On August 7, 2010 50 year old Elena Kagan, a female with one of the nation’s foremost legal minds became the 112th appointee yet only the fourth woman to serve on the Supreme Court. Ms. Kagan replaced John Paul Stevens who had reached the age of 90 and was the longest serving justice in the history of the Court.
President Barack Obama nominated his Solicitor General, Elena Kagan, to the Supreme Court, declaring the former Harvard Law School dean "one of the nation's foremost legal minds." Several precedents were created by the appointment. Ms. Kagan would be the court's youngest justice and give it three female members sitting together for the first time. Although she was not the first Jew to serve on the Court, Steven's retirement put the body in the unique position of having no Protestants, another first.
Elena is well known in the legal communities to be open to a broad array of viewpoints and is fair minded. Many Republicans opposed Kagan, but that did not stop the President from doing what he knew was right. She has a lifelong commitment to public service and a firm grasp of the three branches of government. The New York Times printed the following evaluation of Justice Kagan.
"In choosing Justice Kagan, Mr. Obama chose a well-regarded lawyer who served as a staff member in all three branches of government and was the first woman to be dean of Harvard Law School. She becomes the current court's youngest member but the first justice in nearly four decades without any prior judicial experience.”
In making his second nomination in as many years, Mr. Obama was not looking for a liberal firebrand as much as a persuasive leader who could attract the swing vote of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and counter what the president sees as the rightward direction of the court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. But some analysts even say Justice Kagan would actually shift the court somewhat to the right when compared to Justice Stevens.
That lack of time on the bench allowed Republican critics to question whether she was truly qualified while denying them a lengthy judicial paper trail filled with ammunition for attacks. Their main point of criticism concerned her decision at Harvard to briefly briefly bar military recruiters from a campus facility because the ban on openly gay men and lesbians serving in the military violated the school's anti-discrimination policy.