A group of 69 current and former law school deans have expressed their support for US Supreme Court [official website] nominee Elena Kagan [official profile; JURIST news archive], describing her as "superbly qualified" in a letter [text, PDF] released Tuesday. The June 7 letter, addressed to Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-AL) [official websites], was authored by Stanford Law School [academic website] Dean Larry Kramer [professional profile] and represented the views of deans from a diverse group of schools in a variety of states. The group cited Kagan's academic accomplishments, including the qualities she exhibited as former dean of Harvard Law School [official website], to bolster their recommendation:
Elena Kagan has, over the course of her career, consistently exhibited patience, a willingness to listen, and an ability to lead, alongside enormous intelligence. The same qualities that enabled her to unify what some described as a fractious campus will serve the nation, and the Constitution, well ... She will inspire those around her to pursue law and justice in a way that makes us proud.The deans said their professional positions put them at a "unique vantage point" to speak on Kagan's behalf. Three deans reiterated their support [CNN report] during a telephone conference organized by the White House on Tuesday afternoon.
Kagan's nomination has not been without controversy. Last week, the Clinton Presidential Library released more than 40,000 pages of memos [AP report] written by Kagan during her time as legal counsel to the Clinton administration and as a law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall. The memos fueled conservatives' fears that Kagan may be too liberal [AP report]. Some of the memos outlined policy arguments regarding issues such as abortion, assisted suicide and religious freedom. The Senate Judiciary Committee is concerned that more pertinent documents will not be released in time for Kagan's hearings, which are scheduled to begin on June 28 [JURIST report]. Critics also worry that having another graduate from an Ivy League law school on the bench will foster elitism [JURIST op-ed]. President Barack Obama nominated Kagan [JURIST report] in May to replace Justice John Paul Stevens [official profile; JURIST news archive], who announced his retirement [JURIST report] in April. Kagan became the first woman confirmed as Solicitor General [JURIST report] in 2009.