All the former U.S. solicitors general since 1985 today joined in endorsing current SG Elena Kagan in advance of her Senate confirmation hearing, set to begin June 28.
"Elena Kagan would bring to the Supreme Court a breadth of experience and a history of great accomplishment in the law," the group said in a joint letter released by the White House this morning. If confirmed, they agreed, "she will serve on the Court with distinction, as have prior solicitors general who have had that great honor." They added that "Kagan's most recent experience as solicitor general will serve her well as she wrestles with the difficult questions that come before the Court."
Former Clinton acting SG Walter Dellinger and George W. Bush SG Theodore Olson organized the letter-writing effort, which was joined by Charles Fried, Kenneth Starr, Drew Days III, Seth Waxman, Paul Clement, and Gregory Garre.
In a White House conference call for the press, both Waxman and Clement added their verbal endorsements for Kagan. Clement, who served in the George W. Bush administration and now heads King & Spalding's appellate practice, commented on criticism that Kagan has not had judicial experience. He said the job of solicitor general gives comparable experience such that "it is hard to imagine a position that would lead to an easier transition" to becoming a justice.
Waxman, now chair of the appellate and Supreme Court practice at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, said Kagan will follow in the "illustrious path" of other SGs who have become justices: William Howard Taft, Stanley Reed, Robert Jackson, and Thurgood Marshall. "All have been very formidable justices," Waxman said.
The position of SG also offers valuable training in suppressing one's personal views in decisionmaking, said Waxman, who served in the Clinton administration. An SG "multiple times a day has to put aside his or her personal or policy views," Waxman said. Waxman, who argued in the Citizens United case last year along with Kagan, said he never once got an inkling what her personal views were in defending the controversial ban on corporate expenditures in campaigns -- a case Kagan lost.
In addition to showing bipartisan legal support for Kagan, the joint endorsement today may also serve to blunt Wednesday's expected announcement by onetime Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork -- himself a solicitor general in the 1970s -- that he is opposing Kagan's nomination. Bork will be speaking at an event sponsored by Americans United for Life, which opposes abortion rights.