Opening Statements

Questions for Kagan

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Appearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee this month, Solicitor General Elena Kagan presents a candidate as polished as can be: former Harvard law dean, highly regarded professor, a clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall—a top-tier resumé showing a talent for consensus-building. Since she criticized the confirmation process in a 1995 law review article as “a vapid and hollow charade,” we asked several experts what questions could be posed to Kagan to invigorate the process.

You’ve written that nominees should have to answer questions about “her views on particular constitutional issues.” Do you believe that Kelo v. City of New London was rightly decided by the court?

Ilya Somin
George Mason University School of Law

What is the proper role of courts in reviewing the president’s actions during wartime? Should claims that certain acts are required for national security ever be unreviewable?

Kermit Roosevelt
University of Pennsylvania Law School

Name a Supreme Court decision from the last five years or so you disagree with.

Richard H. Pildes
New York University School of Law

Should the court take more cases?

Carter Phillips
Managing Partner, Sidley Austin in Washington, D.C.

Neither Justice Marshall, for whom you clerked, nor Justice Stevens, whom you replace, cared much for the cert pool. They believed it had an undue influence over which cases the court decides to hear. How will you decide whether or not to participate?

Pamela S. Karlan
Stanford Law School

Chief Justice Roberts has said the court should decide cases narrowly and limit the use of facial challenges. What is your view?

Steve Wermiel
American University Washington College of Law

What role, if any, should the Supreme Court play in assessing the propriety of state court punitive-damages decisions?

Catherine Sharkey
New York University School of Law

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