Kagan ’81 nominated for U.S. solicitor general
President-elect Barack Obama announced Monday that he will nominate Elena Kagan ’81, dean of Harvard Law School, to the post of solicitor general in the Department of Justice.
The Office of the Solicitor General argues all cases on behalf of the U.S. federal government in front of the Supreme Court and federal appellate courts. Nearly two-thirds of all cases the Supreme Court hears involve the federal government.
The office also reviews whether decisions in lower court cases involving the federal government should be appealed and files amicus curiae briefs in cases related to the U.S. government.
Kagan, a history concentrator at Princeton, received her M.Phil from Oxford on a Sachs Scholarship before attending Harvard Law School. When she took over the deanship in 2003, she became the first woman to head Harvard Law School in its nearly 200-year history.
Prior to arriving at Harvard Law School to teach in 1999, Kagan worked in the Clinton White House as assistant counsel to the president, deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy and deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council. Though Clinton nominated her to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 1999, the Senate declined to confirm her nomination. Later, President Bush nominated John Roberts to the post, and he was confirmed in 2003 before resigning to join the Supreme Court.
Kagan began her academic career at the University of Chicago Law School after clerking for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. It was at the University of Chicago that she met Obama when both were on the law school faculty, the Boston Globe reported.
Kagan has also been rumored by news media and politics blogs to be a favored candidate for a Supreme Court nomination by Obama.
In an e-mail to the Harvard Law School community, Kagan said, “I am honored and grateful, awestruck and excited, to be asked to contribute to this most important endeavor,” according to the Harvard Crimson.
Kagan, who declined to comment, has received wide praise for attracting high-profile law scholars to teach at Harvard Law School and for paying close attention to social and student life issues. She plans to resign as dean and take a leave of absence to work for the Obama administration.
If her nomination is confirmed, Kagan would be the first female solicitor general.
“I really can’t imagine anyone better for the job,” Wilson School DeanAnne-Marie Slaughter ’80 said in an e-mail. “She has transformed Harvard Law School in part by focusing on the core values of the rule of law as the safeguard of human liberty; she will now be in a position to serve those ideals even more directly."
Slaughter and Kagan were classmates at Princeton, Oxford and Havard Law School. They were also colleagues at Chicago and Harvard Law Schools.
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