During her confirmation hearing, U.S. Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan promised to put down in writing her admiration for conservative lawyer Miguel Estrada. She has done so.
Kagan wrote a letter to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) this month saying Estrada would be “absolutely superlative” as either a Supreme Court justice or other appellate judge.
“Miguel is an extraordinary lawyer — deeply knowledgeable about all aspects of our legal system and thoroughly responsible in his legal judgments,” Kagan wrote in the letter (PDF), dated July 12. “He has a towering intellect and a prodigious capacity for hard work. He is thoughtful and reflective, subjecting his own beliefs and intuitions, no less than those of others, to the full force of his analytic talents.
“And underneath a sometimes gruff exterior, he has the proverbial heart of gold: no one I know is a more faithful friend or a more fundamentally decent person.”
The letter is no doubt welcome at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where Estrada is a partner and co-chair of the firm’s appellate and constitutional law practice.
Estrada and Kagan have known each other since Harvard Law School, where they were assigned to be seatmates their 1L year. By all accounts, they remained close friends despite their political differences.
And they both were failed nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Kagan under President Bill Clinton and Estrada under President George W. Bush. Republicans declined to hold a hearing on Kagan’s nomination, while Democrats filibustered Estrada’s on the Senate floor.
Estrada will have to wait for the next Republican president before he’s considered again for a judicial nomination, though, according to the 2007 book “Supreme Conflict” by Jan Crawford Greenburg, Estrada declined to be considered for the Supreme Court in 2005 and 2006.