Elena Kagan has had many notable stops along the way in her legal career. Namely, she was a University of Chicago Law School Professor, Dean of Harvard University Law School, Associate White House Counsel, and most recently Solicitor General of the United States.
However, no where in her impressive career will you find Elena Kagan in a Judicial position. Other than Judicial clerkships, Elena Kagan has never been a Judge. Not only has she never been a Judge, she has never tried a jury trial in her whole career. In fact, she only gained experience in federal appellate practice litigation when she was appointed the Solicitor General in January of 2009 by President Obama.
How can we be assured that Elena Kagan will be a competent Supreme Court Justice when she has never been a Judge and only has limited actual litigation experience? Will her academic career be enough to provide her with the foresight to effectively serve on the Supreme Court?
These are the questions that Elena Kagan will have to answer in her confirmation hearings which began on Monday. She will have to respond effectively to questions from Republican Senators who want to know where she stands on the most pressing judicial issues of the day.
At the end of the day, Kagan will likely be confirmed because the Democrats have the Majority in the U.S. Senate.
But, this should not be a partisan issue. Prior Judicial experience should be a prerequisite for serving on the Supreme Court. You could argue about President Bush's nominees Justice Samuel Alito and and Chief Justice John Roberts' judicial philosophies. You could also argue about President Obama's first nominee Justice Sonia Sotamayor's judicial philosophy.
But no one could ignore the fact that both Alito, Roberts and Sotamayor all had several years of prior judicial experience which seems to me should be a requirement to even be considered for the Supreme Court.
Now, the Senators and the rest of the legal profession will only be in the position to surmise the kind of Judge Elena Kagan will become rather than have a past record to base its decision on whether Kagan has the credentials to be on the Supreme Court.
This flimsy evaluation that the Senators now have to rely upon because of the choice that President Obama has made in picking Kagan does the American people a disservice because it potentially could put someone on the Supreme Court who does not have the background to adequately assess the most important issues of the day.
The Supreme Court is the deciding factor on issues raging from civil rights, political controversies, criminal rights, abortion, marriage, among other hot topics.
For all we know which is scarce at this point, Kagan could rely on her liberal philosophy rather than any judicial framework when serving as Supreme Court Justice which is a frightening proposition.
We therefore should at the very least expect that the President of the United States will select a nominee who knows how to be a Judge to avoid any attempt by the nominee to wholly push his or her political philosophy on the American people. That should be the very minimum requirement. Otherwise, the Supreme Court will become another Congress rather than the distinguished judicial institution that it is now.
Unfortunately, Obama chose again to put his own liberal agenda ahead of the desires of the American people.