Interest groups from across the spectrum took their places along predictable ideological fault lines Monday in ruminating the merits of Solicitor General Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court.
Liberal organizations applauded the former Harvard Law School dean as a no-nonsense populist who reaches across the aisle, while conservatives attempted to exploit her lack of experience on the federal bench.
The liberal-leaning Alliance for Justice said Kagan will "stand up for the rights of ordinary Americans."
But the conservative-leaning Judicial Crisis Network accused her of having a "thin record" and "extremist views."
"Senators have a solemn duty to thoroughly examine each nominee's views and to reject those who would not fairly apply the law, but would redefine it to accommodate their own values and beliefs," Judicial Crisis Network lawyer Carrie Severino said in a statement. "Nothing less than the Constitution itself is at stake."
Manuel Miranda, chairman of the conservative Third Branch Conference, likened Kagan's nomination to President George W. Bush's decision to nominate Harriet Miers, his personal lawyer and White House counsel, to the Supreme Court in 2005. Amid criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike, Miers eventually withdrew her name from contention for the seat now occupied by Justice Samuel Alito.
"The Senate must now test for this to determine whether Elena Kagan is qualified for the highest court or just more richly credentialed and with a wider circle of friends than Harriet Miers. Kagan is a stealth nominee for both the Left, who want guarantees on the results of cases, and for the Right, who want to know how a nominee will approach judging," Miranda said in a statement.
Americans for Limited Government, a conservative group, also likened Kagan to Miers.
[IMGCAP(1)]"Elena Kagan is an unknown quantity with nothing in her record to recommend her to the highest court in the land. She's never been a judge, and devoid of any examples, Senators will be hard-pressed to determine exactly what her judicial philosophy is," ALG President Bill Wilson said in a statement. "President Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers' was withdrawn for the same exact reason, and rightly so."
As of press time, both the American Bar Association and the American Association for Justice, a trial lawyers lobby, had not commented on her nomination.
Revealing possible rifts within the abortion-rights community, reproductive groups were not in lockstep Monday on Kagan's nomination. EMILY's List, a political action committee that supports female candidates who support abortion rights, gave President Barack Obama unqualified praise on Monday for nominating Kagan.
"With Elena Kagan, President Obama has selected a strong, independent and intelligent woman for the bench. Her experience and background as Solicitor General and Dean of Harvard Law School will add balance to the court," EMILY's List President Stephanie Schriock said in a statement. "If confirmed by the Senate, Elena Kagan would serve as the fourth woman ever to sit on the court, and the Supreme Court would have a record three women on the bench. With her nomination the court is one step closer to reflecting the diversity that makes our country so great."
The Center for Reproductive Rights said it wants to learn more about Kagan's opinions on important constitutional principles and cases, particularly the right to privacy and Roe v. Wade.
President Nancy Northup said the group applauds Kagan's "ground-breaking" career history as the first female dean of Harvard Law School and first woman to serve as solicitor general.
However, "her public record reveals very little about her judicial philosophy or her views on the constitutional protections in Roe," Northrup added in a press statement. "The last Supreme Court decision on abortion was 5 to 4 and further diluted constitutional protections for abortion. As such, it is absolutely critical that the Senate Judiciary Committee conduct a rigorous confirmation process and thoroughly explore Ms. Kagan's views on the constitutional protection that should be afforded to women seeking abortions."