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NPR lists Kagan's credentials; other nomination controversies

Nina Totenberg's various Morning Edition reports this morning on the expected nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court included these facts.

  • Her presence would result in three female justices on the nine-member court for the first time in its history.
  • If confirmed, she also would become the third Jewish justice on the current court, which has six Catholics.
  • With Stevens' exit, there would be no Protestants.

But what clan does she belong to?

Oh, right. It's Harvard Law.

Elsewhere in controversial court nominations, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on judicial nominations, including that of John J. "Jack" McConnell, Jr., to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Rhode Island. McConnell, a partner at Motley Rice, is Rhode Island's leading trial lawyer, one of the original tobacco attorneys, and a generous campaign contributor to the state's Democrats. (He and his wife, $700,000 over a decade!) McConnell and then-Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse (now a U.S. Senator) ginned up the public nuisance suit against paint manufacturers, eventually thrown out by the Rhode Island Supreme Court. (Earlier Point of Law post.)

On Friday, the Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on the nomination of Goodwin Liu to serve on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Republicans delayed a vote scheduled for last week on Liu. Unfortunately, the vote is being cast as a warm-up to the Kagan confirmation battle, diverting attention from Liu's far-out record, which Liu implicitly renounced at his hearing. We liked this Ed Whelan headline, "Goodwin Liu's Ambition Exceeds Even His Inexperience."

UPDATE (2:15 p.m.): Eric Turkewitz, author of the New York Personal Injury Law Blog, takes note of Kagan's thin experience in the private sector. From "Elena Kagan: The Three-Year Hole in the Resume":

Did Kagan appear in the trenches, battling for the little guy against powerful interests?

And here is what I found from Goldstein's 9750 Words on Elena Kagan:

Upon completing her clerkship, in 1988, Kagan went to work as an associate at Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C.

That was it, out of 9750 words. From there she went in 1991 to the law faculty of the University of Chicago. A three-year stint at BigLaw seems to be the sum total of her private practice. While I don't hold out much hope she did anything other than represent corporate interests, there is the slim hope that she helped an individual. Maybe a pro bono representation of some kind?

Does anyone know anything about this three-year empty hole in the resume where she worked for BigLaw? Who did she represent? Why did she choose to go that route? Why did she find it more desirable to go elsewhere? Did she ever sit at her desk with a box of tissues for a client? Any client?

Will any of those questions get asked at the confirmation hearings? Unlikely. We will probably see lots of questions about the usual political issues; questions which she won't answer, of course.

Her father was a lawyer who did work for tenants, Turkewitz notes in an addendum.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.