Today President Obama announced his nomination to replace John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court: Current Solicitor General Elena Kagan. In his speech, Obama said the 50-year-old Upper West Side native is "widely regarded as one of the nation's foremost legal minds. She's an acclaimed legal scholar with a rich understanding of constitutional law. She is a former White House aide, with a life-long commitment to public service and a firm grasp of the nexus and boundaries between our three branches of government." (Watch below.) But Republican Senators made it immediately clear that they would not rubber stamp Obama's nominee.
Kagan was confirmed by the Senate for the Solicitor General job just last year, with 31 no votes from Republicans. Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee, had told Obama privately that he supported the more conservative appeals court Judge Garland Merrick as Stevens's replacement. Hatch voted to approve Kagan last year, but today he issued a statement saying, "I will examine Ms. Kagan’s entire record to understand her judicial philosophy. My conclusion will be based on evidence, not blind faith. Her previous confirmation and my support for her in that position do not by themselves establish either her qualifications for the Supreme Court or my obligation to support her."
And Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said, "There is no doubt that Ms. Kagan possesses a first-rate intellect, but she is a surprising choice from a president who has emphasized the importance of understanding 'how the world works and how ordinary people live.' Ms. Kagan has spent her entire professional career in Harvard Square, Hyde Park, and the DC Beltway. These are not places where one learns 'how ordinary people live.' Ms. Kagan is likewise a surprising choice because she lacks judicial experience."
On the left, some are wondering if the unmarried Kagan is a lesbian, and if so, whether she will openly address her sexual orientation. Andrew Sullivan writes, "The days are past when this could be brushed under the rug. Let's have an honest debate, can we? The way to counter prejudice is through truth—not avoidance. For the right to oppose Kagan merely because she is gay—if she is—would be one more step toward their self-destruction. By staying mum, the Obamites may be playing yet another rope-a-dope. I just cannot see how in 2010, ambiguity is an option. I mean: who would claim that John Roberts' heterosexuality is somehow private?"