August 7, 2010

Why Kagan could be a crucial vote on key cases


On Thursday, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court, with several Republican votes and no attempts to filibuster. Now that Solicitor General Kagan is about to become Associate Justice Kagan, Americans will have the opportunity to see how she comes out on the issues.

Up to this point, Kagan's paper trail has been scant at best, and as a person with "real-world" experience and no time serving on the bench, she has no judicial record whatsoever. However, her work experience as a law clerk for the late Justice Thurgood Marshall, a Clinton adviser, a law school dean, and a lawyer representing the U.S. government before the high court could provide some clues. Further, she has been called a liberal and a pragmatist, an analytical person who seeks common ground, and someone with a strong personality whose presence could begin to gradually change the court.

The conventional wisdom is that Kagan replacing Justice John Paul Stevens will be a wash from an ideological standpoint. And as the third woman presently on the high court--and only the fourth woman ever to sit on the nation's most important judicial body--a critical mass of female justices will likely have a positive influence on cases involving discrimination and other issues. She pledged "even-handedness" and "impartiality" on the court.


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