By JOSH GERSTEIN, Politico
President Barack Obama will name Solicitor General Elena Kagan as his second nominee to the Supreme Court Monday â€“ a by-the-books choice straight from the top of his short list that seems designed to avoid a major confirmation battle with Republicans.
Kagan is a former Harvard Law School dean who currently serves as the nationâ€™s top lawyer arguing cases before the high court. Obama will announce his pick at a 10 a.m. ceremony in the East Room. If confirmed, Kagan would replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.
Aides indicate that Obama will introduce Kagan, 50, as a legal â€œtrailblazer:â€ she was the first female dean at Harvard Law, the nationâ€™s first female solicitor general and would become only the fourth woman to sit on the Supreme Court.
Yet Kagan is highly unusual in one way â€“ she has never been a judge. Itâ€™s the first time in nearly four decades that someone would join the court, if confirmed, without any prior judicial experience. The last to do so was William Rehnquist, who went on to become chief justice.
And that lack of experience â€“ and a readily available paper trail of legal arguments and decisions â€“ has some on the left, in particular, nervous about whether she is the kind of down-the-line liberal that they dreamed Obama would appoint. In addition, she has centrist bona fides from her work in the Clinton administrationâ€™s domestic policy shop, and has drawn worries from the left over her apparent willingness to give some Bush administration war-on-terror tools to the Obama White House.
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