This morning President Obama will formally announce his nominee for the Supreme Court seat vacated by John Paul Stevens. If confirmed by the Senate, the Upper West Side-raised Elena Kagan, who currently serves as Obama's Solicitor General, would be the nation’s 112th justice. Some on the left worry she's not liberal enough, while others on the right assume she's too liberal, because she once barred army recruiters from a campus facility because of the military's ban on gays violated the school’s anti-discrimination policy. CBS's Bob Schieffer thinks a "really bitter and vicious" confirmation battle looms:
Just this weekend, you saw the very conservative Bob Bennett, the Senator from Utah, lose the Republican nomination because members to the right of the party, a lot of Tea Party people, thought that he was not conservative enough. I think you will see some Republican Senators, moderates, giving very careful consideration to their vote on Elena Kagan.
In a way, a vote against her would be 'Tea Party insurance,' to let people know that they're moving to the right. The Republican Party is moving very far to the right. This is going to be a very, very difficult election-year argument on Capitol Hill.
Kagan's complete lack of judicial experience will be both a strength and weakness going into the confirmation battle. Because of her lack of time on the bench, there's currently much speculation about Kagan's personal political views. A graduate of Harvard Law School (and its eventual dean), she goes way back with Obama—to her days as a professor at the University of Chicago. But some liberals believe that Kagan could move the Supreme Court to the right, fretting over past statements that suggest she believes in strong executive-branch powers. Other analysts say Obama's strategy is intended to attract the swing vote of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, not replace Stevens with a more liberal justice.
Kagan was the first woman to run Harvard Law School and the first woman to serve as solicitor general. The Times reports that if the Senate confirms Kagan, the Supreme Court for the first time will have no Protestant members. Kagan would be the third Jew on the current Supreme Court; the others are all Catholic. They all went to Harvard or Yale.