To the surprise of no one, Elena Kagan was easily confirmed by the Senate to replace John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court and, despite her skimpy paper trail and absence of prior court experience, I suspect that she may be more of a catalyst than many expect. Beyond a reliable vote with the liberal wing, she appears to have the makings of a leader for the jurisprudence of the left, certainly more so than Stevens ever was. There is little doubt that she shares the expansive progressive ideology of President Obama and is a full 180 degree turn from Chief Justice Roberts, the latter point confirmed very easily by their diametrically opposed views expressed in the Citizens United free speech case in which she was Obama’s solicitor. No surprise there, either. But she is very bright and very articulate and this is still a closely divided court on all the wedge issues. And when one considers those issues that are almost surely headed for a Supreme Court showdown pretty soon–the health care bill, immigration, gay marriage, various issues related to the Commerce Clause, etc.–she could be a significant factor. Anthony Kennedy, tighten your chin strap.
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