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US Supreme Court: President Obama Nominates Elena Kagan for the Bench

At 10.02am EDT on Monday 10th May 2010, President Obama held a press conference announcing Elena Kagan as his nomination for US Supreme Court Judge. An abridged version of the statements follows, click here to watch the video:

For nearly 35 years, Justice Stevens has stood as an impartial guardian of the law, faithfully applying the core values of our founding to the cases and controversies of our time.

He has done so with restraint and respect for precedent — understanding that a judge’s job is to interpret, not make law — but also with fidelity to the constitutional ideal of equal justice for all. He’s brought to each case not just mastery of the letter of the law, but a keen understanding of its impact on people’s lives. And he has emerged as a consistent voice of reason, helping his colleagues find common ground on some of the most controversial and contentious issues the Court has ever faced.

While we can’t presume to replace Justice Stevens’ wisdom or experience, I have selected a nominee who I believe embodies that same excellence, independence, integrity, and passion for the law — and who can ultimately provide that same kind of leadership on the Court: our Solicitor General, and my friend, Elena Kagan.

Elena is widely regarded as one of the nation’s foremost legal minds. She’s an acclaimed legal scholar with a rich understanding of constitutional law. She is a former White House aide with a lifelong commitment to public service and a firm grasp of the nexus and boundaries between our three branches of government. She is a trailblazing leader — the first woman to serve as Dean of Harvard Law School — and one of the most successful and beloved deans in its history. And she is a superb Solicitor General, our nation’s chief lawyer representing the American people’s interests before the Supreme Court, the first woman in that position as well. And she has won accolades from observers across the ideological spectrum for her well-reasoned arguments and commanding presence.

But Elena is respected and admired not just for her intellect and record of achievement, but also for her temperament — her openness to a broad array of viewpoints; her habit, to borrow a phrase from Justice Stevens, “of understanding before disagreeing”; her fair-mindedness and skill as a consensus-builder.

So I hope that the Senate will act in a bipartisan fashion, as they did in confirming Elena to be our Solicitor General last year, and that they will do so as swiftly as possible, so she can get busy and take her seat in time to fully participate in the work of the Court this fall.

With that, I would like to invite the person who I believe will be the next Supreme Court justice of the United States, Elena Kagan, to say a few words.

SOLICITOR GENERAL KAGAN: Thank you, Mr. President. I am honored and I am humbled by this nomination and by the confidence you have shown in me.

During the last year as I have served as Solicitor General, my longstanding appreciation for the Supreme Court’s role in our constitutional democracy has become ever deeper and richer. The Court is an extraordinary institution in the work it does and in the work it can do for the American people by advancing the tenets of our Constitution, by upholding the rule of law, and by enabling all Americans, regardless of their background or their beliefs, to get a fair hearing and an equal chance at justice.

And within that extraordinary institution, Justice Stevens has played a particularly distinguished and exemplary role. It is, therefore, a special honor to be nominated to fill his seat…

…Mr. President, I look forward to working with the Senate in the next stage of this process. And I thank you again, Mr. President, for this honor of a lifetime. Thank you so much.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

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