President Obama officially nominated Elena Kagan for a position on the U.S. Supreme Court in a White House address on Monday. Kagan is positioned to succeed Justice John Paul Stevens, 90, who is considered the leader of the more liberal-minded justices that sit on the nine-judge panel.
Beaming with gratitude, Kagan spoke at the White House about her nomination from the president.
“I have felt blessed to represent the United States before the Supreme Court, to walk into the highest Court in this country when it is deciding its most important cases, cases that have an impact on so many people’s lives. And to represent the United States there is the most thrilling and the most humbling task a lawyer can perform,” Kagan said.
While she has never served as a judge, Kagan, 50, has been serving as the nation’s Solicitor General. She has also gained notoriety as an accomplished scholar of law at Harvard University. A recent White House blog post described Kagan as “one of the nation’s leading legal minds.”
“Of the many responsibilities accorded to a president by our constitution, few are more weighty, more consequential, than that of appointing a supreme court justice,” said Obama.
The president also commented on Kagan’s specific attributes that made her stand out from other potential choices.
“Elena is respected and admired not just for her intellect and record of achievement, but also for her temperament—her openness to a broad array of viewpoints; her habit to borrow a phrase from Justice Stevens, ‘of understanding before disagreeing’; her fair-mindedness and skill as a consensus-builder,” Obama said.
With the Democrats in control of the Senate—with 59 seats to the Republicans' 41 seats—Kagan is expected to have a relatively quick road to the Supreme Court.
After being raised in Manhattan and attending Ivy League schools, Kagan became the first female dean in the history of Harvard Law School and the first female Solicitor General. If Kagan makes it through the voting process, she will be the fourth female justice in the history of the Supreme Court, and three female justices will serve the court simultaneously.