Scholar Nominated for Justice Position

“Obama Picks Kagan, Scholar but Not Judge, for Court Seat” covers President Obama’s replacement for Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. Astonishing the world, Obama has nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan, a law scholar and teacher from Harvard, as the next justice. The article reports Obama’s enthusiasm with his decision, quoting him, “That understanding of law, not as an intellectual exercise or words on a page, but as it affects the lives of ordinary people, has animated every step of Elena’s career.” As one of Obama’s employees as solicitor general, Kagan has had to argue cases before the high court that might force her to recuse herself in early cases, if she gets appointed. That, along with her inexperience, has Rightist critics uttering their disagreements, like conservative Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network: “Obama wants to pack the court with reliable liberal votes to rubber-stamp an agenda that he knows the American people would not accept.” Others, mainly liberal-leaning voices, felt she is the best option: “Her historic accomplishments and the way she has conducted herself in these positions has earned her a place at the top of the legal profession. Elena Kagan’s nomination will bring to the Supreme Court a diversity of experience missing since Justice [Sandra Day] O’Connor retired in 2006,” said Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. While at confirmation hearings, Kagan defends herself in the story, saying, ““I think I bring up some of the communications skills that has made me — I’m just going to say it — a famously excellent teacher.”

On the whole, the piece in wonderfully thorough and clear. No close-reader would finish the article not knowing the intricate details and contentions surrounding Kagan as the Supreme Court nominee. It quotes supporters and dissenters, as well as Kagan herself. One qualm I have with the report is it doesn’t fare well in conveying to the reader what exactly some of the governmental positions do (i.e. solicitor general, judiciary committee, or appeals court judge). Most people wouldn’t know. But I suppose the readership of the New York Times would, or at least the publication thinks so. The social importance of the policy story also makes it relevant news material. As a supreme judge of the land, Kagan would be able to adjudicate and pronounce verdicts on laws that will affect the overall climate of our culture, as they did with Roe v. Wade in 1973, Marbury v. Madison in 1803 or in Bowers v. Hardwick 1986. The informed public eagerly awaits such news, either to praise it or rebuke it.

Find it HERE.


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