INTERVIEW: Student of SCOTUS nominee Kagan's speaks to her abilities

By Ryan Nobles - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - This morning, President Barack Obama announced his intention to appoint his solicitor general, Elena Kagan, as the associate justice to the Supreme Court. If confirmed, Ms. Kagan would be the third woman on the high court.

She's a former dean at Harvard Law School. Professor Kevin Walsh was a student of manslaughter of Ms. Kagan's during his time in law school.

RYAN: What can you tell us about nominee Elena Kagan?

KEVIN: Well, she is a wonderful teacher. I think she's one of the best at the law school at the time, but she's also just a very gracious person. For instance, she hosted a dinner for Justice Scalia at the Harvard Law School to honor his 20 years on the court, and she's quite the after dinner speaker, as well.

RYAN: That must have been interesting. Obviously you know a lot about the court. You clerked for justice Scalia as you mentioned. President Obama has taken the unique approach of appointing someone who isn't actually a judge, actually never served as a judge. Do you think this is going to come up during her nomination process, and could it hurt her?

KEVIN: it will certainly come up, and I think what the democrats will point out in return is that there have been many distinguished supreme court justices who have not had prior judicial experience. In fact, one of the more recent -- and when I say more recent, I mean it was in the past several decades, Richmond's own justice Powell who practiced law here from Hunt and Williams in Richmond. He had no prior judicial experience but certainly was a well respected justice.

RYAN: There are certainly other people on the other end of the spectrum who believe it brings a different perspective to the court.

KEVIN: Exactly. That's something several senators said.

RYAN: T want to talk to you about the initial reaction to her. Obviously there is going to be some criticism from the right. That's expected. There has been an alarming amount of criticism on the left, some people comparing her to President Bush nominating Harriet Meyers. Her situation was blown up by conservatives, not democrats. Do you think this could be an issue that there are liberals upset with this choice?

KEVIN: Certainly there are. I have a feeling as they get to know solicitor general Kagan better, not only through this process, but if she's confirmed through her activities on the bench that those on the left will probably be pleasantly surprised.

RYAN: Could there be a situation here because she doesn't have a paper trail as a judge that there will be rumors that fill the void and that could potentially run into some problems for her?

KEVIN: That definitely could happen. Although, everyone talks about the lack of a paper trail, but she does have quite a range of experience serving in the Clinton administration as a dean of Harvard Law School, and you generate a lot of paper in those jobs, as well. And so part of this process will be going through the sorts of things that solicitor general Kagan worked on in the administration and seeing what those memos say.

RYAN: Professor Walsh, thanks for the answers. We'll have to have you back as this process goes along.

KEVIN: Thank you, Ryan.

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