President Barack Obama will nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, choosing a woman who has worked in elite legal and policy jobs but has never served as a judge, according to people familiar with the situation.Also at ABC News, "15 minutes ago AP: Elena Kagan is Obama's Pick for the Supreme Court" (via Memeorandum).
The selection is to be announced Monday. If confirmed by the Senate, she would succeed retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, the 90-year-old leader of the court's liberal wing.
In making his choice, aides said the president looked for someone with not only a top legal mind but also the ability to bring people of differing views together. With the Supreme Court closely divided ideologically, the president is hoping his pick will be a leader who can build majorities in close cases.
He saw that quality in Ms. Kagan, who earned a reputation for bridging divides as a policy adviser in the Clinton White House and, in particular, over six years as dean of Harvard Law School. At Harvard, she aggressively recruited new faculty of all ideological stripes and went out of her way to make sure conservatives felt comfortable on the left-leaning campus. She won accolades from colleagues and students across the political spectrum.
Conservatives with whom she has worked are likely to endorse her nomination, providing helpful support as the Senate considers the matter. The White House has already lined up people willing to speak out on her behalf, including conservatives, women's groups and public interest law advocates.
Harvard is what comes to mind for me. Obama's a Harvard Law grad, and he knows the culture of that institution and perhaps has a feel for Kagan's administrative style as a result. More importantly, Kagan's not an ideological progressive, and while folks are saying the defeat of Utah Senator Bob Bennet is a victory for the tea parties, that's just as true with Kagan, especially since she's a national security centrist, which will likely help the administration avoid a more bruising confirmation battle than might otherwise be expected.
And of course, perhaps the president's interested in breaking more civil rights barriers. See, "Obama Will Pick That Rumored Lesbian Elena Kagan for Supreme Court."
AND PREVIOUSLY: "Is Elena Kagan Lesbian?"