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Saturday News: Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagen?

Good Morning Conflucians!!

I’m even more spacey today than I was yesterday. Now that I finish turning my final grades, my body and mind want me to drop everything and state into space for a few hours, then go back to sleep. Of could I’m still going to have to deal with the barrage of e-mail complaints from students who think they should have gotten an A even though their semester average was in the B- range. And then there are the ones who want me to give them a C even though they failed all the exams. {{Heavy sigh….}}

So anyway….I did stare into space for a long time and listened to the thunder and lightning outside….finally decided to focus on Elena Kagan’s supposedly immanent nomination for SCOTUS. I don’t know if the WH just leaked her name to get a preview of the reactions or if Obama really plans to submit her name next week. We’ll see, I guess. In the meantime, everyone is talking about it and breaking down her record.

Here’s the latest reaction from Glenn Greenwald. He pulls together most of the criticism of Kagan. And here is his original Case Against Elena Kagan, which we have already discussed at TC.

Much of the criticism has been of Kagan’s hiring record at Harvard, where she mostly hired white men. Some of the most pithy articles I read:

The White House’s Kagan Talking Points are Wrong

The White House’s primary response — like the magician performing a trick–is to point our attention elsewhere. The White House says the hiring numbers are misleading because they do not reflect the number of offers that Dean Kagan made to women and scholars of color. But this seems a bit hard to believe. Do women and people of color find a tenured or tenure-track professorship at Harvard Law School less attractive than white men? Do they really prefer to teach at less prestigious schools? Or if they only prefer not to teach at Harvard because of perceived hostilities to women and people of color, why is it that Kagan could somehow overcome these perceptions when it came to conservatives, but not women and people of color? After all, part of the praise for Kagan is that she made Harvard Law School welcoming again for conservatives—in this case, conservative white men.

In order to assess whether Dean Kagan effectively reached out to women and scholars of color, we need the number of tenure and tenure-track offers she made to women and scholars of color. But the White House does not provide us the number of tenure and tenure-track offers that Dean Kagan made to women and scholars of color. In fact, they provide everything but those numbers. An honest defense would provide those numbers in the first instance. (The White House memo implicitly cites the privacy of the individuals who received offers as a basis for refusing to release names — but we wonder how many law professors would be embarrassed by the public revelation that they turned down a Harvard Law School offer.)

There is quite a bit of discussion of this article around the ‘net because it was written by three top law professors. Lots of other blogs have commented on this article. Here’s the response from Darren Hutchinson at Dissenting Justice.

From Chris Good at The Atlantic: Kagan Could Be Hard to Hit

I asked Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network (a conservative group focused on judicial nominees) what conservatives are going to say about Kagan, and what Kagan’s “wise Latina” moment, if there is one, will prove to be.

“She has been much more careful than Justice Sotomayor. She never would have said something like that even if she thinks it. She’s been so careful for so long that no one seems to know exactly what she does think,” Severino said.

Severino attended Harvard Law School, where Kagan served as dean. She asked fellow Harvard people about Kagan’s tenure as dean. “Everyone came back with the same perspective, which was she was careful to never say anything on the record, or off the record, to anyone about her own opinions, so I think she’s been carefully shepherding her image for a long time, possibly ever since her DC circuit nomination by President Clinton, so that’s a long time to effectively live on the short list.”

Another problem for Kagan is her ties to Goldman Sachs, according to Matt Kelley of USA Today:

Solicitor General Elena Kagan was a member of the Research Advisory Council of the Goldman Sachs Global Markets Institute, according to the financial disclosures she filed when President Obama appointed her last year to her current post. Kagan served on the Goldman panel from 2005 through 2008, when she was dean of Harvard Law School, and received a $10,000 stipend for her service in 2008, her disclosure forms show.

And from Sam Stein at Huffpo:

On Friday, a slew of inquiries was made to the White House and Justice Department about a minor post Solicitor General Elena Kagan once held at Goldman Sachs, the investment bank under fire over controversial mortgage securities transactions. Kagan served on a Goldman advisory council between 2005 and 2008, with the task of providing expert “analysis and advice to Goldman Sachs and its clients.” For her work she earned a $10,000 stipend.

This was actually old news. Kagan disclosed this information during her first confirmation hearings for the post of Solicitor General.

Unless you’re a committed (or commitable) Obot, I can’t see why the Goldman issue should be on the table. After all, there has been a lot of water under the bridge since Kagan’s previous confirmation hearings.

Charlie Savage discusses the issue of executive power and SCOTUS

As President Obama prepares to nominate somebody to succeed Justice John Paul Stevens, his administration appears to be on a collision course with the Supreme Court in legal disputes that will test the limits of executive power.

Those disputes — involving issues like detainee rights and secrecy — throw into sharp relief the differences in the records of several leading contenders for the nomination, including Solicitor General Elena Kagan and two appeals court judges, Merrick B. Garland and Diane P. Wood.

And the there’s the “is she gay” issue. I don’t know if the Repubs will bring it up or not–maybe in sneaky ways.

There’s this from the Washington Post: Obama navigating high court nomination with more ease this time

After listing the ways the administration is handling things better, supposedly, there this:

….in other respects, the process is the same as a year ago, with senior administration officials hinting about who is on the shortlist — for the past couple of weeks, it has been Kagan, Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Judge Diane Wood of the 7th Circuit and Judge Sidney Thomas of the 9th Circuit — but remaining relatively opaque with outside interest groups. Activists with liberal interest groups said White House officials have kept open communication lines but have been circumspect about Obama’s thinking. “The contact has typically been one-way, which is, ‘We’ll hear what you want to tell us,’ ” said one activist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of offending the administration.

Another said that there have been several meetings but that the White House has not much shared its point of view. Still, one outside source said the president’s preference is less apparent than at the same point a year ago, just before he nominated Sotomayor. “Last time around, you knew Sotomayor was going to be the candidate,” the person said. “She was such a home run on so many different counts. . . . I would say this one is much, much, much more difficult for them.”

As the process draws to a close, officials in several groups handicapped the race as between Kagan and Garland, giving Kagan the edge. Kagan, they said, has weathered criticism from conservatives and liberals. The left has criticized her defense of some of the terrorism policies of the George W. Bush administration, although her defenders point out that she was only representing the policies of the Obama administration.

Via Greenwald, there’s also this horrifying headline: Supreme Court Watchers Wonder: How Conservative Is Kagan?

If Obama nominates her, I’d have to guess she is pretty conservative.

What do you think? And what are you reading today? Have a great Saturday, and I apologize for my lack of energy this morning.

33 Responses

  1. Kagan has ties to GS?

    • Doesn’t everyone in the Obama administration? She also worked for Bill Clinton–will Obots object to that?

      • She worked for Clinton a decade before going to work at GS.

        • As far as I’m concerned, if Obama wants her, I probably won’t like her. But she has no paper trail according to all the law experts.

          • What bb said.

          • bo has no paper trail either.i guess it,s not a big thing these days

          • Is it just me, or are these SCOTUS appointments the only area where the Chicago Gang, who are supposed to be good at politics and politics only though you’d never know it, show any real political savvy? They appoint these people who, at best, are going to move the Court ever farther to the right and at worst, let’s not think about it, but they effectively checkmate all opposition by holding truly vile candidates in reserve, ready to step in at a moment’s notice, while also creating a situation where opponents are forced to defend the candidates when Republicans attack them on vile, crazy grounds. Thank god our Failbot friends freed us from the dreaded triangulation. 😉

          • I agree BB. I have so little trust in Obama that I wouldn’t put it past him to pretend to be a Feminist again for his own purposes,and then put a woman on the court who will screw women. Our own Clarence Thomas, so to speak.

            I’m sorry, but that’s who he is.

    • Did someone call me?

  2. This quote about Kagen from The Atlantic reminded me of another attorney with a Harvard background:

    “She’s been so careful for so long that no one seems to know exactly what she does think.”

  3. Absolutely no connection with that vote in Congress. Nope.

    Wall St. still wondering what made stocks tank

    NEW YORK — Regulators and Wall Street officials scoured millions of trades one by one Friday and canceled thousands as they sought to explain a record plunge in the stock market, undo the damage and keep it from happening again.

    It wasn’t clear how long the process would take or if it would solve the mystery behind Thursday’s harrowing trading session that saw the Dow Jones industrial average fall hundreds of points and then recover, all in a matter of minutes. The chaotic slide — some stocks briefly fell to near zero — brought back memories of the darkest days of the financial crisis.

    The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission were investigating, but on the day after, there were more questions than answers.


  4. Boiling’s not going to help this time:

    Tainted nuke plant water reaches major NJ aquifer

    Radioactive water that leaked from the nation’s oldest nuclear power plant has now reached a major underground aquifer that supplies drinking water to much of southern New Jersey, the state’s environmental chief said Friday.

    The state Department of Environmental Protection has ordered the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station to halt the spread of contaminated water underground, even as it said there was no imminent threat to drinking water supplies.


    • Oh, great, it happened in ’09 and it’s news just now?

      The tritium leaked from underground pipes at the plant on April 9, 2009, and has been slowly spreading underground at 1 to 3 feet a day. At the current rate, it would be 14 or 15 years before the tainted water reaches the nearest private or commercial drinking water wells about two miles away.

      I’m sure we can trust their figures. s/

    • No imminent threat????!!!!

    • Oh crap, that’s me! I remember the tritium leak in 2009 but didn’t know it was still a problem. There’s an article in today’s paper about Oyster Creek being ordered by the state to cooperate in the investigation. It says State Dept. of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin says “There is a problem here. I am worried about the continuing spread of tritium into the groundwater and its gradual moving toward wells in the area. The DEP must identify the risk and determine how to deal with the problem. This is not something that can wait.”

      I am going to have to stay on top of that one. I hope we’re not drinking it already.

  5. Elizabeth Warren is being interviewed on Your Money at CNN

  6. The leak had to be a trial-balloon.
    I LOVE Elizabeth Warren!

  7. Exelon..another huge Obama supporter. Shucks, why wouldn’t they be after O’s watering down of Nuke accident reporting law in ILL when he was State Senator. Gave a complete pass on having to report spills…unless, of course, they felt like it.
    More of the same BS.

    • Thanks Ralph; I heard about this commercial but had not seen it. I say “sock it to ’em”.

  8. The Dome over the oil spew didn’t work … they had to remove it. It’s getting worse. I guess they need the cement condom before the spew and not after …


  9. I was sure hoping that dome thingy was going to work. Seems like we are getting some big messages from planet earth.

    About Kagan and SCOTUS. Kagan has some “histerical” qualities—she is a woman; she would make it the first time the SCOTUS had 3 females; if she is gay that would be another marker for the one who loves “histerical and unprecedented” markers in his little histerical legacy portfolio. She has the Haarvard ticket and worked for Goldie Socks. How could you pass that up?

    My big question: Is she Catholic?

    • No, she’s Jewish.

      I believe the top google search on her right now is “Elena Kagan husband,” btw, ugh, sigh.

      • From what I’ve read on the LGBT blogs, Kagan has been out and proud gay for some time. I guess the WH told her to lie about it?

  10. Glenn Greenwald cares about civil liberties and abuse of presidential powers, and thank goodness for that. Sometimes that means smaller government for him, but not always. He also cares about drug liberalization. These are critically important issues and cases, but by no means the full range of legal areas reviewed by the Court.

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