Justice Nominee Kagan Stirs Some Concerns

Some conservative groups expressed concern Monday over the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Earlier in the morning, President Obama named Kagan as his nominee to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

One of the repeated complaints among social conservatives is Kagan's strong pro-choice view. Opponents of her nomination fear she will be an activist judge who will work to advance an agenda rather than interpret the law without bias.

"Elena Kagan has strong ties to abortion-advocacy organizations and expressed admiration for activists judges who have worked to advance social policy rather than to impartially interpret the law," said Charmaine Yoest, president of the Americans United for Life.

Yoest said her organization will "oppose President Obama's attempt to reshape the Court as an activist, pro-abortion institution" that judges use to "impose an out-of-the-mainstream social agenda upon the American people."

Kagan, if approved by Congress, would replace 89-year-old Justice Stevens, considered the leader of the court's liberals. She would be the third women on the high court, joining Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, another Obama pick.

Besides AUL, Catholic Families for America and Priests for Life also oppose Kagan's nomination because of her stance on abortion.

Catholic Families for America is also against the nomination because of her promotion of same-sex marriage. The Catholic organization has initiated a nationwide petition that will be forwarded to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"By nominating Miss Kagan to the Supreme Court, the president continues to demonstrate a brass-knuckles, Chicago-mobster mentality toward unifying our nation," said Dr. Kevin Roberts, executive director of CFA. "Naming someone who has been so actively hostile to traditional marriage and to the unborn lays bare the president's pro-abortion, anti-family agenda, in spite of what he says to the contrary."

Another concern for a minority of Americans is the possibility of having no Protestant justice on the Supreme Court for the first time in history. Retiring Justice Stevens is currently the only Protestant on the high court. Kagan grew up in a Jewish household in New York.

According to a recent Gallup Poll, however, 66 percent of Americans say it "doesn't matter" if the next justice is Protestant.

What does matter for many is how the next justice leans. Forty-two percent of Americans surveyed by Gallup said they want a new justice who would make the high court more conservative than it currently is. By comparison, only 27 percent said they want a justice who will make the court more liberal.

Nearly a quarter (24 percent) said they want to keep the political leanings of the court as it is now.

Kagan, who turned 50 last month, received her law degree at Harvard University and served for five years as dean of the Harvard Law School. She also taught at the University of Chicago, where Obama was also a professor.

"You have to admit, Elena Kagan is a brilliant woman," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican on the Judiciary Committee, during a radio interview last year when Kagan was being considered for a seat on the Supreme Court. "She is a brilliant lawyer. If [Obama] picks her, it is a real dilemma for people."

Still, critics point out Kagan has little judicial experience besides a few years of private law practice and as the solicitor general for about a year. She has never been a judge and argued her first case before the Supreme Court as solicitor general.

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