This week, when the President first told me he’d chosen Elena Kagan to serve on the Supreme Court, I couldn’t help but smile. I had a chance to interview many great candidates, but Elena stood out. I met her nearly 20 years ago, when she took a break from teaching to join my staff in the Senate. She helped us confirm Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and even then, it wasn’t hard to picture a day when we’d be helping Elena prepare for confirmation hearings of her own.
Since that time, I’ve followed her career, and today, I believe Elena Kagan is an inspired choice for the Supreme Court.
Throughout her career, she’s been a trailblazer, breaking glass ceilings in both academia and government. She’s been a consensus-builder, earning praise for her work with Republicans in trhe Clinton White House and her support for the free exchange of ideas as the dean of Harvard Law. She’s flat-out brilliant, easily one of the best legal minds I’ve ever met. But most importantly, she’s also someone who understands that the application of the law holds real consequences for Americans in all walks of life.
Now her nomination goes to the Senate. I’ve been through this process more than once, and I’ve learned that the success of any nomination is strongly influenced by the public response in the first few days.
As a young attorney, Elena clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall. She often calls him her hero. Now, she’s following in his footsteps as the Solicitor General of the United States, the chief legal advocate for our government. If Justice Marshall were with us today, I’m sure he’d be proud of the clerk he used to call “Shorty.”
To see why, look no further than her role in the Citizens United case. It was a legal battle that most experts agreed would be impossible for the government to win. But as Solicitor General, Elena chose this as her first case. She recognized that rolling back bipartisan election law would allow special interests to dominate campaigns across the country and drown out the voice of the American people. Though she knew she’d probably lose, she chose to make it her fight all the same. That’s character.
That kind of decision defines Elena’s career. With her resume, she’s had no shortage of lucrative opportunities. But her parents were both public servants — her mother a school teacher and her father a housing lawyer who fought for tenants’ rights — and she has always followed their example. Like her dad, she’s used her legal knowledge to serve others, and like her mom, she’s been an educator, working to pass her knowledge on to another generation. Now, it’s time to bring that heartfelt, principled commitment to the Supreme Court.
In these crucial early days, help us show that public support for this extraordinary nominee is overwhelming:
Vice President Joe Biden