John Nichols: Will Kagan Take Up Stevens's Fight for Checks on Executive Power?





[John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.]

When President Obama taps Solicitor General Elena Kagan as his nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens this morning, he will be will making a cautious choice that runs the risk, in the words for former National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn "move the delicately balanced court to the Right."

Attorney General Eric Holder may believe that Kagan will "be a great justice,"

And there is no particular reason to argue with the assessment from People For the American Way President Michael B. Keegan, who said Monday that: “Elena Kagan is a bright and clearly qualified nominee.

But Keegan stopped short of a full embrace of the pick.

"I look forward to the confirmation process and learning more about the judicial philosophy she'll bring to the high court," the head of the liberal watchdog group, which has a long and admirable record of monitoring court picks. “This confirmation process presents a unique opportunity for a dialogue about the role of the Court and the meaning of our Constitution. Over recent years, the Roberts Court has pushed a political agenda from the bench, favoring corporations and powerful interests over the rights of ordinary people. We’ve seen longstanding Constitutional principles and laws designed to protect families and individuals casually tossed aside in pursuit of a rigidly conservative ideology.

Keegan says he looks forward to a "national conversation" about the Kagan nomination, and so should we all.

That conversation should begin with an honest admission that Kagan's record does not suggest that she will be as great, or as liberal, as Stevens....



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