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Conservatives get ready for Kagan

The moment that Justice John Paul Stevens announced his retirement, conservatives assumed two things. One: Whomever President Obama nominated to replace Stevens would likely move up to the court. Two: With the election already looking good for Republicans, the goal of the movement, as it failed to stop Obama's nominee, would be to smoke her (we assumed it would be female) out on hot-button issues like the Second Amendment and state sovereignty, and to tie up the Senate with the process.

Here's a quick guide to the opposition.

- Kagan "kicked military recruiters out of Harvard" over the issue of Don't Ask Don't Tell. (On this point, conservatives have gotten an assist from scaredy-cat liberal Peter Beinart.)

- Kagan herself has argued for nominees to be grilled more on their philosophy.

- Kagan has no judicial experience. (Democrats will happily point out that she was denied 11 years of experience on the D.C. circuit by a 1999 Republican filibuster.)

- Kagan did some advisory work for Goldman Sachs from 2005 to 2008. The size of her stipend -- $10,000 -- indicates how far from the action this job was. But it will come up.

- Kagan wrote her thesis about socialism in New York.

We're already seeing a line of criticism develop. If I can sum it up in the bluntest possible language, Kagan is a New York, Ivy League elitist, a critic of the military during wartime, who was picked because President Obama is all of those things. It will be less difficult for conservatives to drum up skepticism about her than it was the self-made Sonia Sotomayor, who tripped up conservatives when they went overboard in accusing her of benefiting from her race.

By David Weigel  |  May 10, 2010; 9:09 AM ET
Categories:  Supreme Court  
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