Letter in Support of Support of Solicitor General Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court

Recipient: Senate Judiciary Committee

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, we write to express our support for the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to be Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. In every step of her career, Elena Kagan has distinguished herself through her outstanding intellectual credentials, her independence of thought, and her strong respect for the rule of law, establishing herself beyond question as qualified and ready to serve on the Court. We look forward to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings this week on Kagan’s nomination, and we urge Senators to explore her views on the highly important civil and human rights issues that are facing our nation.

As evidenced by her academic background and distinguished legal career, Elena Kagan will be an impartial, thoughtful, and highly-respected addition to the Supreme Court. After graduating with distinction from Princeton University and Harvard Law School, Kagan served as a law clerk for two of the giants of the 20th century judiciary, Judge Abner Mikva of the D.C. Circuit and Justice Thurgood Marshall of the Supreme Court. Since that time, she has devoted her career largely to academia and public service, quickly excelling in both – including as the first woman to become Dean of Harvard Law School and, most recently, as the first woman to become U.S. Solicitor General.

Given her stellar record and her reputation for fairness, Kagan has garnered broad support across partisan and ideological lines, earning glowing praise from colleagues in the judiciary, academia, and legal profession who know her best. For example, Jack Goldsmith, former head of the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush Administration, noted her reputation for “listening to all sides, engaging colleagues frankly and empathetically, patiently seeking consensus and exercising judgment openly and with good reasons,” and argued that “these qualities will serve the nation well on a court that adjudicates our most contentious and divisive legal issues.” Former Judge Abner Mikva described her as “one of the best clerks I ever had.” He added that her not previously serving as a judge is “a real plus” because she would bring “an important viewpoint to the United States Supreme Court that unfortunately is missing when you have nine judges,” a point echoed by Justice Antonin Scalia and former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Ten former Solicitors General from both parties, among them Kenneth W. Starr and Drew S. Days, praised her “breadth of experience and a history of great accomplishment in the law,” adding that her “most recent experience as Solicitor General will serve her well as she wrestles with the difficult questions that come before the Court.”

We also urge Senators not to be swayed by a small number of ideological extremists who stand at odds with the mainstream legal community, and have been trying to characterize Kagan as having an ideological agenda. Certainly in the hundreds of thousands of pages of records that have been made publicly available, from throughout the course of her career, we have not been able to find one. What we have found, however, is compelling evidence of Kagan’s commitment to equal justice and civil rights for all, and a clear dedication to upholding our nation’s constitutional values.

While we urge the Committee to thoroughly question Elena Kagan about her views on the pressing legal issues of our day, it is abundantly clear to us that Elena Kagan is a consensus-builder with a rich diversity of experience who will play an important role in healing a fractured Court and in protecting the rights of all Americans. Because of this, we are pleased to support her nomination, and we urge the Senate to promptly move forward with her confirmation.

Thank you for your consideration of our views. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Senior Counsel Rob Randhava at (202) 466-6058.