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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.

By Al Kamen  |  May 11, 2010; 2:16 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , In the Loop  
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Why don't they stop ignoring the 1000 pound gorilla in the room?
It seems to be general knowlege at Harvard that she is gay, and event the identity of her partner is known. I don't know if this is true, but it should not be ignored.
We know this Administration is trying to regulate the Internet even though this was struck down by Congress, so he is doing an end run by using the FCC and making the Internet a "utility" We may not be able to express ourselves as freely very soon.
The Supreme Court judge is a lifetime appointment. At 50 she could be around for 40 years. We should know as much information about this far left woman as possible before her possible confirmation.

Posted by: joanz3 | May 12, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Well now, since both the Republicans and the Democrats have decided that not having any experience is a major plus for seating someone on the Supreme Court, I submit to the Obama Administration that I should be the next nominee. After all, not only am I totally lacking in Judicial Experience, I do not even have a Law Degree, and since NOT having any of the standard qualifiers seems to be the new qualifier, I am well suited to the job.

Unfortunately I already know I will be rejected for the position since I have informed the Treasury Department that I would be willing to cheat on my taxes and blame the falsified records on Turbo Tax if they would give me a high level position, so far no response from them either.

Posted by: jonweiss1 | May 12, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Hussein said that when he was in school, he "sought out the Marxist and Feminist" professors. 'nough said about this hag.

Posted by: jhr1 | May 11, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Let's put judicial experience in context. Say you have a year or two on the Fourth Circuit under your belt. You've heard lawyers argue say 100 cases on a bunch of different issues, about 2 of which would attract the least bit of attention at the Supreme Court, let alone get there. You were on the prevailing side in the votes on several dozen of those, and assigned the majority opinion in a dozen or so of those. You are now appointed to the Supreme Court. What's your experience worth in the first case you hear, the subject of which is unique, like all Supreme Court cases are, by and large? Not a whole lot. Every case is unique, and the first case Kagan hears will require original analysis and research by her and her clerks, an intellectual debate with the other eight during deliberations, and some skill in writing opinions. A couple years on a circuit appellate court won't help her listen better, read better, think better, argue better, or write better. Being a professor who has to teach an entire body of constitutional law is actually tougher. Having to brief and argue dozens of cases in the Supreme Court as Solicitor General is more relevant experience than being even a circuit appellate court, ruling on issues regarding routine trials that aren't even eligible for Supreme Court review.

the experience issue is a non issue.

Posted by: JoeT1 | May 11, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

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