May 10, 2010

Campos: Is Kagan Obama's Harriet Miers?

I'm not a SCOTUS expert and won't pretend I'm remotely familiar with Elena Kagan's record, but Paul Campos looked it over, and found it very, very thin:

Yesterday, I read everything Elena Kagan has ever published. It didn't take long: in the nearly 20 years since Kagan became a law professor, she's published very little academic scholarship—three law review articles, along with a couple of shorter essays and two brief book reviews. Somehow, Kagan got tenure at Chicago in 1995 on the basis of a single article in The Supreme Court Review—a scholarly journal edited by Chicago's own faculty—and a short essay in the school's law review. She then worked in the Clinton administration for several years before joining Harvard as a visiting professor of law in 1999. While there she published two articles, but since receiving tenure from Harvard in 2001 (and becoming dean of the law school in 2003) she has published nothing. (While it's true law school deans often do little scholarly writing during their terms, Kagan is remarkable both for how little she did in the dozen years prior to becoming Harvard's dean, and for never having written anything intended for a more general audience, either before or after taking that position.)...


...At least in theory Kagan could compensate somewhat for the slenderness of her academic resume through the quality of her work. But if Kagan is a brilliant legal scholar, the evidence must be lurking somewhere other than in her publications. Kagan's scholarly writings are lifeless, dull, and eminently forgettable. They are, on the whole, cautious academic exercises in the sort of banal on-the-other-handing whose prime virtue is that it's unlikely to offend anyone in a position of power.

If Campos' critique is accurate—and I'm going to proceed as if it is—we need to ask ourselves a very simple two-part question:

  1. What is the minimum level of competence, experience, intellect, and scholarship that we should expect in someone nominated to a lifetime position on the Supreme Court?
  2. Does Obama Administration nominee Elena Kagan meet these minimum standards?

I have no problems with Kagan being the nominee based upon her record, because she doesn't have a record to criticize. She is utterly unspectacular as a nominee in every way.

More than partisan loyalty, I suspect most Americans want the sharpest, most penetrating legal minds to serve this nation on the Supreme Court even, even when we disagree with their stances. Elena Kagan has shown no evidence of having that sort of intellect. She seems to be a competent if pedestrian academic, but aren't there thousands of Americans, if not tens of thousands, equally qualified at that level?

I'd rather the President nominate a brilliant mind I utterly oppose than a middling, if inoffensive candidate.

Americans deserve to have our best on the Supreme Court. I would like to see anyone make the serious argument that Elena Kagan is the best we can nominate for the highest court in the land.

Bueller? Anyone?

Posted by Confederate Yankee at May 10, 2010 09:09 AM

Kagen has as much judicial experience s Barry had executuve experience,to wit, zero, nada and none. You see how well Barry fifteen months, and counting, of on the job training has worked out. As Barry's second favorite philosopher said: "What me worry!"

Posted by: DavidL at May 10, 2010 11:06 AM

What a silly argument. Logic does not count, except for conservative picks.

The DEMS control the Senate and the Repubs just want to get along. This is why they blindly accept as true Senate testimony at odds with everything a candidate (for any position) has said or done in the past.

Remember the recent remonstraons from Republicans that Attorney General Holder is doing precisely what he said he would not do during his testimony, even though he is doing eactly what he said he would do prior to the Senate hearings.

Oh. And the media will lie cheat and to ensure the Obama pick gets the best possible coverage.

Oh. Oh. The time for letting a President have his pick, because he is the President, should be over for liberal presidents (It has been over for some time for Repiublicans).

Posted by: davod at May 10, 2010 11:48 AM

This doesn't pass the sniff test. The woman is on the record as being against gay marriage. There seems to be something else in play such as getting gay marriage on the table or using her as an initial sacrifice.

Posted by: David at May 10, 2010 01:58 PM

Your description of Kagen seems almost to mirror that of the "pre-confirmed" Justice Souter, which means she would be a "wild card" that straight laced Obama supporters should probably fear.
One quick example is that this morning there is a report of a Kagen "opinion" from the Clinton Administration that he should support a ban on "late term" abortions. This has got to have the Democratic "pro-abortion" minions stirring.

Posted by: Neo at May 11, 2010 04:58 AM