To no one’s surprise, Obama nominated Elena Kagan to fill the opening on the Supreme Court. Many have pointed to the fact that she’s never served as a judge before as one of the main reasons Obama did so — she has no paper trail. Since I have a generally low estimation of judges at the best of times, I can’t see that it’s too disastrous that she hasn’t sat on the bench. This is especially true considering that being on the Supreme Court is an entirely different experience from presiding over a trial. The skill sets just aren’t the same.
My primary sense of Kagan is that she is, first and foremost, a leftist politician. The perfect evidence of this fact is her decision to kick the military out of Harvard Law School. That was knee-jerk Leftism pandering to a base.
Funnily enough, the one thing I don’t carry away when thinking of Kagan is intelligence or, rather, I should say I don’t have a sense of a well-stocked brain, strong analytical abilities, and a quick mind. Instead, she strikes me as something of an Obama clone: a feral intelligence, unhindered by real knowledge, that is most adept at using Leftist political trends for self-advancement.
I’m sure she will be confirmed — since she’s got no record of anything to support not being confirmed — and I’m hopeful that the intellectual heft that Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas bring to the court will overwhelm her.
UPDATE: Jennifer Rubin on the main problem with Kagan’s activism:
Her entire career has been spent either as a law school administrator or as an advocate (e.g., in a political position in the Clinton administration or as solicitor general). The question she was used to asking herself was: what do I want the law to be? But the business of judging is determining what the law is. Liberals see no difference — the law is what five justices say it is. But most Americans and a majority of the Court think otherwise. So the questions for her now are: how does she decide what the law is, what method does she use for separating personal conviction and constitutional interpretation, and does she have a view of the Supreme Court that is something other than as an uber-legislature? We’ll find out this summer.