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Sizing Up Elena Kagan

President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee may nudge
the court right instead of left, says Daria Roithmayr of the USC Gould School.

Earlier this month, Barack Obama chose Solicitor General Elena Kagan as his pick to replace outgoing Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. Kagan, the first nominee in several decades without prior judicial experience, faces certain hurdles in the confirmation process, says Daria Roithmayr of the USC Gould School.

“Likely obstacles include, from the right, the fact that she has had no judicial experience, and, from the left, questions about whether she is willing to surrender core progressive principles in the name of consensus building,” Roithmayr predicts. “Some critics are also taking her to task for failing to hire minorities while she was dean at Harvard, and want more information about her hiring as solicitor general.”

Though Kagan is the choice of a Democratic president, her political alignment and potential impact on the court’s balance have been the subject of scrutiny from conservatives and liberals alike.

Roithmayr’s guess: “Kagan is not likely to move the court to the left, and some fear that she may actually move the court slightly to the right, relative to a court with Justice Stevens, her would-be predecessor.”

Daria Roithmayr, professor of law at the USC Gould School, is an expert on Supreme Court nominations, affirmative action, and presidential and congressional politics.

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Sizing Up Elena Kagan

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