From the New York Times:
WASHINGTON — President Obama introduced Solicitor General Elena Kagan on Monday as his choice to become the nation’s 112th justice of the Supreme Court, hailing her as a “one of the nation’s foremost legal minds,” as he girded for a battle over whether it takes a judge to serve on the court.
At a ceremony with her at his side in the East Room of the White House, Mr. Obama called Ms. Kagan, the first woman to serve as solicitor general and as dean of the Harvard Law School, a “trailblazer” and “consensus builder” known for “her openness to a wide range of viewpoints.”
“She believes, as I do, that exposure to a wide array of perspectives is the foundation not just for a sound legal education but a successful life in the law,” said the president, who was also joined by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. He emphasized that Ms. Kagan understands “people’s lives that might be changed by the law” and said that that understanding “has animated every step of Elena’s career.”
With a beaming smile, Ms. Kagan said she was proud to be chosen to succeed Justice John Paul Stevens, the leader of the liberal justices on the court, who is retiring after 35 years. She vowed, if confirmed, to make sure Americans “get a fair hearing and an equal chance at justice,” saying that “law matters” because it “protects our most fundamental rights and freedoms.”
Her selection immediately touched off a debate about whether her résumé as an academic, a government official and, for one year, the federal government’s chief advocate before the Supreme Court qualifies her to join it. Although many justices through history have joined the court with no prior service as a judge, Ms. Kagan would be the first in nearly four decades.
A New Yorker who grew up in Manhattan, Ms. Kagan earned degrees from Princeton, Oxford and Harvard Law School, worked briefly in private practice, clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall, served as a Senate staff member and worked as a White House lawyer and domestic policy aide under President Bill Clinton. She was nominated for an appeals court judgeship in 1999, but the Senate never voted on her nomination.
If the Senate confirms Ms. Kagan, who is Jewish, the Supreme Court would for the first time have no Protestant members: there would be six justices who are Catholic and three who are Jewish. All nine would have studied law at Harvard or Yale.