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The Kagan nomination: A serious question

It's not that Elena Kagan never has been a judge that gives us cause to pause in considering her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. After all, William Rehnquist never sat on the bench before his nomination to the high court and he served with distinction as an associate justice and chief justice.

The problems with Ms. Kagan, nominated by President Barack Obama on Monday to succeed the retiring John Paul Stevens, are, first, her limited real-world legal experience and, second, the fact that she doesn't even meet her own "threshold" test for being considered for the court.

Writing at National Review Online, legal scholar Ed Whelan notes that Kagan has been "a legal academic" for most of her career. The one-time Harvard Law School dean never had argued a case before becoming solicitor general last year. And Kagan really only practiced law for about two years, Mr. Whelan says.

And it was Kagan who, in a 1995 law review article, placed a premium on judicial experience for Supreme Court nominees. She has not, in her own words, "evidence(d) an ability ... to master the 'craft' aspects of being a judge."

Elena Kagan doesn't meet her own standards to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court. So, why did she even bother to accept the president's nomination?

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