Tag Archives: nominee

Elena Kagan, In Her Own Words

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Jesse Lee


On Monday you heard the President speak at length about Solicitor General Elena Kagan’s brilliant career, her deep understanding of how the law affects real lives, and the family that instilled values of education and service in her from childhood.  We also posted an extensive list of commentary from the media, Congress, and legal experts praising her experience and reputation for building consensus.

Today we wanted to share a look at Kagan in her own words.

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President Obama Nominates Elena Kagan for Supreme Court

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Jessie Lee

Her Passion for the Law is Anything But Academic

President Obama is joined by Vice President Joe Biden while introducing Solicitor General Elena Kagan as his choice to be the nations 112th Supreme Court justice during an event in the East Room of the White House May 10, 2010 in Washington, DC. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, the former Harvard Law School dean would be the first justice to join the high court without prior judicial experience since William Rehnquist in 1972. Kagan was selected by Obama to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. (Photos by Win McNamee/Getty Images North America)

In noting that Solicitor General Elena Kagan would have legendary shoes to fill at the Supreme Court when confirmed, the President described the career of Justice John Paul Stevens:

For nearly 35 years, Justice Stevens has stood as an impartial guardian of the law, faithfully applying the core values of our founding to the cases and controversies of our time.

He has done so with restraint and respect for precedent — understanding that a judge’s job is to interpret, not make law  — but also with fidelity to the constitutional ideal of equal justice for all.  He’s brought to each case not just mastery of the letter of the law, but a keen understanding of its impact on people’s lives.

He followed by describing Kagan’s career upholding many of the same values while blazing a path as one of the most respected legal minds in America:

Elena is widely regarded as one of the nation’s foremost legal minds.  She’s an acclaimed legal scholar with a rich understanding of constitutional law.  She is a former White House aide with a lifelong commitment to public service and a firm grasp of the nexus and boundaries between our three branches of government.  She is a trailblazing leader — the first woman to serve as Dean of Harvard Law School — and one of the most successful and beloved deans in its history.  And she is a superb Solicitor General, our nation’s chief lawyer representing the American people’s interests before the Supreme Court, the first woman in that position as well.  And she has won accolades from observers across the ideological spectrum for her well-reasoned arguments and commanding presence.

But Elena is respected and admired not just for her intellect and record of achievement, but also for her temperament — her openness to a broad array of viewpoints; her habit, to borrow a phrase from Justice Stevens, “of understanding before disagreeing”; her fair-mindedness and skill as a consensus-builder.

These traits were particularly evident during her tenure as dean.  At a time when many believed that the Harvard faculty had gotten a little one-sided in its viewpoint, she sought to recruit prominent conservative scholars and spur a healthy debate on campus.  And she encouraged students from all backgrounds to respectfully exchange ideas and seek common ground — because she believes, as I do, that exposure to a broad array of perspectives is the foundation not just for a sound legal education, but of a successful life in the law.

This appreciation for diverse views may also come in handy as a die-hard Mets fan serving alongside her new colleague-to-be, Yankees fan Justice Sotomayor, who I believe has ordered a pinstriped robe for the occasion.  (Laughter.)

But while Elena had a brilliant career in academia, her passion for the law is anything but academic.  She has often referred to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, for whom she clerked, as her hero.  I understand that he reciprocated by calling her “Shorty.”  (Laughter.)  Nonetheless, she credits him with reminding her that, as she put it, “behind law there are stories — stories of people’s lives as shaped by the law, stories of people’s lives as might be changed by the law…”

That understanding of law, not as an intellectual exercise or words on a page, but as it affects the lives of ordinary people, has animated every step of Elena’s career — including her service as Solicitor General today.

During her time in this office, she’s repeatedly defended the rights of shareholders and ordinary citizens against unscrupulous corporations.  Last year, in the Citizens United case, she defended bipartisan campaign finance reform against special interests seeking to spend unlimited money to influence our elections.  Despite long odds of success, with most legal analysts believing the government was unlikely to prevail in this case, Elena still chose it as her very first case to argue before the Court.

I think that says a great deal not just about Elena’s tenacity, but about her commitment to serving the American people.  I think it says a great deal about her commitment to protect our fundamental rights, because in a democracy, powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.

Vice President Joe Biden...This is a big f-ing deal!

For her part, Kagan expressed a profound sense of patriotism in her experience as Solicitor General:

I have felt blessed to represent the United States before the Supreme Court, to walk into the highest Court in this country when it is deciding its most important cases, cases that have an impact on so many people’s lives.  And to represent the United States there is the most thrilling and the most humbling task a lawyer can perform.

She spoke about “the joy of teaching” she felt at Harvard Law, and the experiences she has learned from throughout her career.  She closed on a personal note:

I’m thankful to my brothers and other family and friends for coming to Washington to be with me here today.  And much more, I am thankful for all of their support and loyalty and love, not just on this day but always.

If this day has just a touch of sadness in it for me, it is because my parents aren’t here to share it.  They were both, as the President said, the children of immigrants and the first in their families to go to college.  My father was the kind of lawyer who used his skills and training to represent everyday people and to improve a community.  My mother was a proud public schoolteacher, as are my two brothers — the kind of teachers whom students remember for the rest of their lives.

My parents’ lives and their memory remind me every day of the impact public service can have, and I pray every day that I live up to the example they set.

Mr. President, I look forward to working with the Senate in the next stage of this process.  And I thank you again, Mr. President, for this honor of a lifetime.  Thank you so much.  (Applause.)

Read the full remarks

One of the Nation’s Leading Legal Minds: The President Nominates Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court

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Timeline

  • 1960 – Born April 28 at New York City, New York, United States.
  • 1981 – Elena earns Bachelors Degree from Princeton University, summa cum laude.
  • 1983 – Elena earns a Masters of Philosophy degree from Worcester College, Oxford University.
  • 1986 – Receives a Juris Doctor professional degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School.
  • 1988 – Serves as clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • 1995 – Begins service to President Bill Clinton as Associate White House Counsel and Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy.
  • 1999 – Nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
  • 2003 – Appointed first female dean of Harvard Law School.
  • 2005 – Begins service as a member of the Research Advisory Council of the Goldman Sachs Global Markets Institute.
  • 2009 – Becomes the first woman to hold the position of Solicitor General of the U.S.
  • 2010 – Nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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VH1 Docs Premieres: ‘Soul Train: The Hippest Trip In America’

Posted by: BuellBoy

Soul TrainFew television series were as innovative and influential to pop culture as “Soul Train.” Set first in Chicago, “Soul Train” launched on WCIU-TV with local radio and television personality, Don Cornelius on August 17, 1970. After moving the dance show to Los Angeles, “Soul Train” skyrocketed nationally and firmly secured its place in television by becoming the longest running, first-run syndicated series in history. To commemorate the show’s 40th anniversary, VH1 Rock Docs and Soul Train present “Soul Train: The Hippest Trip In America,” a monumental 90-minute documentary celebrating the show’s impact on pop culture, music, dance and fashion. The film will also feature a rare interview with Don Cornelius in which he reveals exclusive details regarding the launch and early days of the legendary series.

Host, Don Cornelius

Host, Don Cornelius

From 1970-2006, “Soul Train” offered a window into African American music and culture, and its charismatic host, Don Cornelius, was the man responsible for a new era in African American expression. A trained journalist, Don created a media empire that provided an outlet for record labels and advertisers to reach a new generation of music fans. He was and still is one of the first African Americans to own his own show. As the epitome of cool, many of his expressions entered the popular American lexicon: “A groove that will make you move real smooth,” and “Wishing you Love, Peace, and Soul!”

Terrence Howard

Terrence Howard

“Soul Train: The Hippest Trip In America” is narrated by Academy Award nominee Terrence Howard and features an original score by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots. The documentary includes memorable performances and moments from the show, as well as behind-the-scene stories from the people who lived the “Soul Train” movement, including the cast, crew, and dancers. In addition, popular musicians (Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, Smokey Robinson, Snoop Dogg, Aretha Franklin), Sly Stone’s first exclusive documentary interview in years, comics (Cedric “The Entertainer,” Nick Cannon), music industry executives (L.A. Reid, Clive Davis, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff) and actors of yesterday and today will comment on growing up with the show and will share their stories of how “Soul Train” affected their own lives.

“Soul Train: The Hippest Trip In America” is the newest documentary in the Emmy Award-winning VH1 Rock Doc franchise. Coinciding with the start of Black History Month, the documentary airs Saturday, February 6 (9:30 p.m. ET) on VH1.

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Democrats Cast Blame At Each Other Over Senate Campaign

Posted by: Audiegrl

U.S. Senate Democratic nominee Martha Coakley gives a concession speech January 19, 2010 at the Sheraton Boston

Associated Press/Laura Kellman~The buck stops … Well, it was hard to tell just where the buck stopped Tuesday when it came to the Democratic party’s loss of the Massachusetts Senate seat that had been held by Edward M. Kennedy for nearly half a century.

Days before Republican state Sen. Scott Brown officially captured the seat over Democrat Martha Coakley, Washington to Boston began dodging blame and pointing fingers at each other.

Cool-headed analysis of what was driving independents from Coakley to Brown? No. The issue was who botched Democrat Martha Coakley’s Senate campaign more: her state people or national Democrats.

Most spoke the classic Washington way, under the cloak of anonymity. But President Barack Obama’s senior adviser took precise, public aim at Coakley’s camp as Brown closed in on the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s seat.

I think the White House did everything we were asked to do,” David Axelrod told reporters. “Had we been asked earlier, we would have responded earlier.”

But the signs had been there. In the bluest of blue states, the election was seen, at least in part, as a referendum on Obama, on health care reform, on the Democratic majority that had controlled two of three branches of government for a year.

And the Republican candidate was surging.

What of Obama himself?

Surprised and frustrated,” reported White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, promising more presidential reaction Wednesday. “Not pleased.”

Democrats could agree on the obvious: Somebody had taken the seat for granted, had underestimated the public’s anger over the economy, over the Democrats’ health care overhaul, over plain old arrogance in Washington.

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Senator Arlen Specter Announces Support for Stalled Justice Department Nominee Dawn Johnsen

Posted by: Audiegrl

ThinkProgress/Amanda Terkel~Last year, President Obama nominated Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel, which, during the Bush administration, sanctioned torture. Johnsen, however, was an outspoken critic of the so-called “torture memos.” Conservatives blocked her nomination, and the White House has said that it plans to renominate her when the Senate officially reconvenes later this month. Even after he became a Democrat, Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter said that he opposed Johnsen’s nomination. However, today his office released a statement in which Specter says that he will now support her:

After voting ‘pass’ (which means no position) in the Judiciary Committee, I had a second extensive meeting with Ms. Johnsen and have been prepared to support her nomination when it reaches the Senate floor.

Spencer Ackerman notes that Republican Sen. Dick Lugar (IN) has also said he is standing by his support for Johnsen, meaning she has the 60 votes necessary to be confirmed.

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