President Obama yesterday nominated Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court.
For me, it is not a surprising choice. It is also a pretty safe choice. A Solicitor General basically has the same professional qualifications as a sitting federal judge, so some of the talk about her lack of experience is misplaced. What better training in constitutional law can you get than arguing the government's cases before the Supreme Court?
The big question mark is her ideological leanings. It is well established that Supreme Court justices vote based on their policy preferences, so knowing these preferences is important. Will Kagan be willing to talk openly about her policy views during her confirmation hearings?
Let's hope so. In a 1995 article appearing in the University of Chicago Law Review, Kagan criticized confirmation hearings for lacking "seriousness and substance." Hopefully this means that Kagan is willing to bring some substance to her own hearings and answer questions about her views. After all, this is the only opportunity that we have to evaluate her before putting her on the Court. (If you are on campus and can access jstor the link to the article is here.)
But these hearings are weeks away. For now, what is your reaction to Kagan's nomination?