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Tuesday round-up

In the Washington Post, Anne Kornblut and Robert Barnes discuss the changes that Kagan’s confirmation could bring to the Court; they posit that, “[t]ogether with Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan’s confirmation would represent a shift toward a younger, changing court, one that values experiences outside the courtroom and emphasizes personal interactions as much as deep knowledge of the law.”  In the New York Times, Mark Leibovich considers what effect, if any, the presence of three women on the Court will have on the Court’s culture.

Also in the Times, Peter Baker characterizes Kagan’s nomination as “extend[ing] a quarter-century pattern in which Republican presidents generally install strong conservatives on the Supreme Court while Democratic presidents pick candidates who often disappoint their liberal base.”  Yet as Jeff Zeleny and Carl Hulse report in the Times, “Democratic senators praised Ms. Kagan” while “most Republicans said they would withhold judgment until after the confirmation hearings or their face-to-face meetings with her.”  In the Washington Post, Karen Tumulty notes that both sides of the ideological spectrum view Kagan somewhat warily. Tony Mauro at the National Law Journal, Laura Meckler of the Wall Street Journal, and Kate Phillips at the Times’ Caucus blog also review the partisan reaction.

At Politico, Josh Gerstein discussed that wariness in the context of Kagan’s “scant writings.”  In the Los Angeles Times, David Savage and Christi Parsons suggest that such a limited record will make her that much easier to confirm.  Nina Totenberg of NPR addresses Kagan’s “remarkably sparse public record” and reviews her public positions on detainees and the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy; Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle also reviews the latter issue.  On the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal, Robert Clark (whom Kagan succeeded as dean of Harvard Law School) provides his version of Kagan’s role in the controversy over on-campus military recruiting, explaining that she had merely upheld a policy that was already in place.  In Slate, Emily Bazelon argues that Kagan was “first and foremost an institutional player” in dealing with the issue; on a New Yorker blog, Jeffrey Toobin similarly describes Kagan as having “tried—tortuously—to steer a middle course.”

Greg Stohr of Bloomberg reviews Kagan’s record.  Jess Bravin of the Wall Street Journal begins his analysis of Kagan’s positions on counterterrorism thus: “Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan criticized aspects of the Bush administration’s war on terror but she has also advanced arguments for strong counterterrorism policies, leaving relatively little room for critics on the right to attack her on the issue.”  In a column for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Chris Mondics reports that family members of September 11 victims are outraged over a case Kagan handled as Solicitor General (Federal Insurance Co. v. Saudi Arabia), in which she recommended that the Court deny certiorari in a case brought by the family members against the government of Saudi Arabia for supporting charities that purportedly funded al-Qaeda fighters.

Geoffrey Stone, who served as dean of the University of Chicago Law School when Kagan was hired there, has an op-ed piece in the Chicago Tribune in which he encourages conservatives to support her confirmation.  In the Boston Globe, Jonathan Saltzman and Tracy Jan review Kagan’s tenure at Harvard.

In USA Today, Martha Moore suggests that those who know Kagan well have not been surprised at her success; CNN paints a similar picture.  The Times editorial board writes that “[w]hether by ambitious design or by habit of mind, Ms. Kagan has spent decades carefully husbanding her thoughts and shielding her philosophy from view,” and it urges the Senate to press her to open up at her confirmation hearings.  At the New York Times’ Opinionator blog, Linda Greenhouse similarly expresses hope that Kagan will provide substantive answers at her confirmation hearings.  By contrast, the Washington Post’s editorial board emphasizes that “Ms. Kagan must not be pinned down on how she would vote in future cases.”  The Chicago Tribune editorial board dubs Kagan a safe choice and hopes for the chance to learn more about her, although the editorial board of the Boston Globe doubts that such a chance will be forthcoming.  And the editors of the Los Angeles Times similarly express doubt whether the Senate is capable of conducting hearings that would elicit candor.

John Dickerson, at Slate, questions the president’s claim that Kagan has a special understanding of the law’s effect on ordinary people.