9 Editorials on Elena Kagan

A variety of views portray the Supreme Court nominee as milquetoast, moderate, unknown, elite

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This morning, newspaper editorial boards react to the Elena Kagan nomination. Here's the roundup of 9 newspapers' thoughts on the pick.

  • Obama the Liberal  "In selecting Elena Kagan to be the country's next Supreme Court Justice, President Obama has tapped the legal world's version of himself: a skillful politician whose cautious public persona belies a desire to transform the court and shape a new Constitutional liberalism," writes the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal. "Known for her personal charm and politesse, Ms. Kagan is also a woman of the modern judicial left who is unlikely to break from the High Court's liberal bloc on any major legal dispute."
  • Obama the Peacemaker  The Baltimore Sun also thinks the pick reveals something about Obama, but instead thinks it shows "Obama hasn't given up on the idea that a new kind of politics can be more effective than the old ways of confrontation."
  • Kagan the East Coast Moderate  "For those whose views run closer to the center, where we stake our flag" write the editors of The Dallas Morning News, "it's encouraging to hear she was hired to run domestic policy by Bruce Reed, spiritual leader of the moderate New Democratic movement. It speaks to her ability to pursue common ground between left and right, which this court needs." Their one quibble: "she is one more really smart lawyer who has spent her career swimming among Ivy League schools, top government jobs and elite teaching positions."
  • Kagan the Milquetoast  The Boston Globe sees Kagan's moderateness as more of a liability: "For Elena Kagan to emerge as a great Supreme Court justice, she will have to lay out a more expansive vision of the law than she has shown so far. Kagan has outstanding legal credentials, but so far lacks the passion of a crusader."
  • Kagan the Unknown Quantity  The New York Times would like to know a little more about Ms. Kagan. "Her lack of a clear record on certain issues makes it hard to know whether Mr. Obama has nominated a full-throated counterweight to the court’s increasingly aggressive conservative wing."
  • This Lady Is Harmless, declares The Charlotte Observer.  "During her solicitor general confirmation hearings last year, she said she did not believe there was a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. She said she did not believe Afghan detainees had the right to due process and that she was not morally opposed to the death penalty." Their recommendation to Senate Republicans: don't manufacture objections to Kagan. The electorate will be able to see it for the election-year "posturing" it is.
  • Two Things We're Worried About  "Kagan has no previous experience as a judge and a less-than-stellar performance in her present position," write The Washington Examiner's editorial board, but really it's "two issues in Kagan's background" that they're worried about: the military recruitment on the Harvard Law School campus issue and then "her preparation in the Citizens United case before the Supreme Court." Her deputy in that case seemed to be "endorsing government censorship of books," the board argues.
  • 'A Vapid and Hollow Charade' is what Elena Kagan herself called Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 1995, and The Los Angeles Times would like to see her make sure her own confirmation is different. They're mostly reserving judgment on Kagan, but say that "especially given her lack of judicial opinions, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have a duty to engage her in a conversation about her views of the Constitution and the role of a judge."
  • Go, Kagan, Go!  The Washington Post is not so reserved. "In Elena Kagan, President Obama has found a Supreme Court nominee with a stellar intellect and an impressive résumé," reads the editorial. "Judicial experience is valuable but no prerequisite. Many respected justices, including Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, had no experience on the lower courts. What is indispensable is a first-rate mind and a proven ability to deal thoughtfully with complex legal issues." This the Post thinks Kagan has.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.