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Kagan's Backing From The Center And The Right

Publication Date: 
May 11, 2010
Dallas Morning News
William McKenzie

Professor Michael McConnell weighs in on Elena Kagan's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. William McKenzie of the Dallas Morning News filed this story:

In preparing our editorial today on Elena Kagan, I talked to Bill Galston, a Brookings Institution scholar whom Kagan succeeded in the Clinton White House's domestic policy operation. Galston pointed out that Kagan was the hire of Bruce Reed, who is perhaps the ultimate New Democrat.

Before going to work for Clinton, Reed was involved in many internal Democratic battles over the direction of the party and he always came out on the side of being aware of the power of markets and possessing an appreciation for civil rights and civil liberties. Shorthand, he's a moderate Democrat. And since then he has been one of the leaders of the Democratic Leadership Council.


I also was struck by the response of Michael McConnell, a respected former appellate judge who now teaches at Stanford Law School. McConnell is highly regarded in conservative legal circles and he said in an email yesterday that he thinks Kagan is a fine pick. As this response from him shows, he disagreed with our contention that not being a judge was a good thing. But he is for her and says I could post this email:

"I think Kagan is a fine pick. Her ability to work with conservatives is a big plus, as you say. I think it is silly, though, to say that lack of judicial experience is a good thing. Quite possibly, some non-judicial experience would be good for the court -- someone who had represented criminal defendants, for example, or had a background in the real economy, or in the military. Much as I like Elena Kagan, I can't say that adding one more Justice who went to elite schools, taught at elite universities, and worked for the executive branch, adds diversity because she never was a judge."

Neither of these observations means that Kagan should be a slam-dunk. But as a political moderate, I liked knowing that Reed hired her and that McConnell is not opposed to her.