Elena Kagan, Post lawyer
By Al Kamen
Senators on both sides of the aisle are contorting to work out their positions on the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Former Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania opposed Kagan 14 months ago when she was nominated for her current job -- the only one in government that requires a candidate to be a lawyer.
At the time, the then-Republican Specter worried, inter alia, that her "strongly held" views would impede her ability to be an effective advocate for the administration's positions. (The GOP was very concerned that the Obama administration do well at the high court.)
Having switched to save his seat from a Republican primary challenge, Specter now has to explain how someone who didn't qualify to be the administration's mouthpiece is somehow qualified to be on the court.
No problem. She "has a varied and diverse background outside the circuit court of appeals," he says, meaning she's a great pick because she has no experience as a jurist.
Then there are all those Republicans working a no-judicial-experience rap on Kagan who have to deal with having effusively praised Bush White House Counsel Harriet Miers, who somehow got nominated (just for three weeks) to the Supreme Court in 2005.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said Miers, who had no judicial experience and was lacking in other areas, was an excellent, even more "desirable" choice precisely because she didn't have any experience on the bench.
Fact is, Kagan is a brilliant lawyer and we at In the Loop think she's eminently qualified for the court. We know this because she worked on a couple cases for The Washington Post 20 years ago when she was at Williams & Connolly.
Seems The Post had written a series and talked about one Craig Allen Williams, who was charged in some killings after his accidental release from the D.C. Jail in October 1988. (He was eventually convicted in 1990 in two murder cases, each carrying mandatory minimum 20-to-life sentences.)
Williams maybe didn't like the media coverage. He sued The Post and its writers -- including Kagan's former Daily Princetonian colleague Bart Gellman -- and the D.C. Police department for violating his civil rights. Although memories are dim as to precisely what Kagan did in the nine months before the suit was thrown out, she clearly bested the opposing counsel.
Of course, the opposing lawyer may not have been a formidable litigator: Williams, filing his legal motions from the federal pen, was representing himself.
She also represented The Post and WRC-TV in a successful bid to compel release to the public of unredacted transcripts of audiotapes to be used in a criminal trial.
May 11, 2010; 2:16 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , In the Loop
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