President Barack Obama (D) has nominated Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court to fill the vacancy being left by Justice John Paul Stevens when he retires later this year. She will be Obama’s second appointment to the Court, following his 2009 appointment of Sonia Sotomayor. Kagan is the first Supreme Court appointee with no experience as a judge since William Rehnquist was appointed as an Associate Justice by President Richard Nixon (R) in 1971. Rehnquist was later elevated to Chief Justice by President Ronald Reagan (R).
Kagan had been nominated to the U.S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia by President Bill Clinton (D) in 1999, however the Republican Congress skirted its Constitutional duty to act on her nomination before the end of Clinton’s presidency. President George W. Bush (R) later nominated John Roberts to that position, and then later appointed him Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Currently serving under Obama as Solicitor General of the United States, Kagan is charged with representing the U.S. government before the Supreme Court. Previously, she had served as Dean of the Harvard Law School and was an Associate White House Counsel under Clinton. Her ideological position is generally being characterized as ‘liberal,’ although with no judicial record to her name it is very difficult to determine with any certainty.
Assuming her nomination is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Kagan is expected to join the court when it begins its next session in the fall.