US President Barack Obama on Monday nominated [press release] Solicitor General Elena Kagan [official profile; JURIST news archive] to the US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive]. If confirmed by the US Senate [official website], Kagan would replace Justice John Paul Stevens [official profile; JURIST news archive] when he retires [JURIST report] at the end of the current term. Obama said [transcript; video] that Kagan "is widely regarded as one of the nation's foremost legal minds." Speaking to the press, Kagan described the nomination as an "honor of a lifetime." Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) congratulated Kagan on her nomination but warned [statement] that the Senate would not "rush to judgment." If confirmed, Kagan will become the youngest justice and the fourth woman to serve on the Supreme Court.
Obama said last month that he would take into account a potential nominee's position on individual liberty [JURIST report], including women's rights, when nominating a Supreme Court justice. Earlier in April, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official website] predicted that Obama would nominate a replacement for Stevens in time for hearings to be concluded over the summer [JURIST report]. Kagan became the first woman solicitor general [JURIST report] when she was confirmed by the Senate in March 2009 by a vote of 61-31. Prior to that, she served as dean of Harvard Law School [JURIST report] since 2003.