News & Politics


It’s official—Elena Kagan is President Obama’s choice to replace Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court. Not surprisingly, everyone is eager to voice their opinion on the nomination.

Here’s who’s on Team Kagan:

In a statement praising Obama’s choice, Harvard Law School dean Martha Minow—who was also mentioned as a possible high-court pick—called Kagan “a leader of tremendous vision who has been supremely dedicated to justice and the rule of law throughout a distinguished career marked by the passionate pursuit of excellence.”

Co-president of the National Women’s Law Center Marcia Greenberger said, “We have known Elena Kagan for many years and have the greatest respect for her outstanding accomplishments, considerable legal skills, and fair-mindedness.”

President of the National Partnership for Women and Families, Debra Ness, had more kind words: “Elena Kagan’s record—as a practicing attorney, a law-school professor, the first woman dean of Harvard Law School, and our nation’s first woman Solicitor General—is distinguished by keen intellect, fair and independent thinking, and remarkable achievement.”

Michael Keegan, president of People for the American Way called Kagan “a bright and clearly qualified nominee.”

Said John Podesta, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress: “As a friend and colleague of Elena Kagan for more than 20 years, I applaud her nomination to the Supreme Court. General Kagan is a first-rate intellect, a passionate legal scholar, and a dedicated public servant—and she is both well prepared and well suited to serve on the nation’s highest court.”

Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice, is also a Kagan fan: “Along with her sterling academic and professional qualifications, she will bring to the Court a respect for core constitutional values and a willingness to stand up for the rights of ordinary Americans. Her appointment also represents an historic step forward as women continue to take their rightful place on the highest court in the land.”

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will oversee Kagan’s confirmation. In a statement, he said: “Ms. Kagan broke the glass ceiling when she was appointed as the first woman to serve as Solicitor General and also previously when she became the first woman to serve as dean of Harvard Law School. Her historic accomplishments and the way she has conducted herself in these positions has earned her a place at the top of the legal profession.”

Here’s who’s on the opposing team:

Charmaine Yoest, President and CEO of Americans United for Life, offered this statement: “President Obama’s choice of Solicitor General Kagan makes it clear that liberal judicial activism will be the impact of this untried and untested judicial pick, leading to unknown consequences for the American people. The President’s portrayal of Solicitor General Kagan as mainstream and centrist is inconsistent with Kagan’s own record. She has been an abortion advocate and activist and an apologist for activist judges. Kagan’s confirmation will give us the kind of activist, radical Supreme Court that gave us the [Roe v. Wade] decision.”

Carrie Severino, chief counsel of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, says in a statement, “Obama wants to pack the court with reliable liberal votes to rubber-stamp an agenda that he knows the American people would not accept. What better way than to appoint a loyalist from his own Department of Justice with a thin public record to advance his leftist legacy through the Court.”

From former Indiana congressman David McIntosh, co-founder of the Federalist Society: “Solicitor General Kagan has been nominated with no judicial experience, a mere two years of private-law practice, and only a year as Solicitor General of the United States. She is one of the most inexperienced nominees to the US Supreme Court in recent memory.”

Edward Whelan, president of the conservative think tank the Ethics and Public Policy Center agrees: “Among Supreme Court nominees over the last 50 years or more, Kagan may well be the nominee with the least amount of relevant experience.”

And the undecideds:

Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, a Republican and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is reserving judgement: “Although the Committee is familiar with Ms. Kagan from her previous nomination as Solicitor General, a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court is a far more significant position. Accordingly, her nomination merits a fresh review based on different criteria. It is unwise to make a judgment on her nomination until that evaluation is conducted.”

And finally, you may recall that several of The Washingtonian’s Top Lawyers also had a lot to say about Kagan as the next Supreme Court justice. 

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Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 as a staff writer, and became a senior editor in 2014. She oversees the magazine’s real estate and home design coverage, and writes long-form feature stories. She was a 2020 Livingston Award finalist for her two-part investigation into a wrongful conviction stemming from a murder in rural Virginia.