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New York City Bar Association Finds Solicitor General Elena Kagan Highly Qualified for U.S. Supreme Court


Eric Friedman
(212) 382-6754
Kathryn Inman

New York City Bar Association Finds Solicitor General Elena Kagan Highly Qualified for U.S. Supreme Court

New York, June 22, 2010 – Samuel W. Seymour, President of the New York City Bar Association, announced that the Association has concluded that Solicitor General Elena Kagan is Highly Qualified to be a Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

The Association found that Solicitor General Kagan demonstrates exceptional legal ability and intellectual prowess, an extraordinary level of accomplishment in each of the several areas of the legal profession that she has pursued, an outstanding grasp of the role of the court in the structure of government and in American society, and the judgment and temperament to address effectively the matters that will come before her and work with her colleagues to seek a fair resolution of each case.

“We are confident that our Association’s thorough and independent examination of Solicitor General Kagan’s candidacy, which led to our finding her highly qualified, will assist the Senate as it reviews her qualifications to serve on the Supreme Court,” said Seymour.

The Association reviewed and analyzed information from a variety of sources: Solicitor General Kagan’s memos written when she was a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall; her speeches and articles; her papers during her service in the Clinton White House; her 2009 testimony in the Senate hearings concerning her confirmation as Solicitor General; Supreme Court briefs and oral argument transcripts from cases she argued as Solicitor General; comments received from City Bar members and committees; a wide range of press reports, blogs and commentaries; and interviews with more than 80 individuals who worked with the Solicitor General in various capacities throughout her legal career.

The Association determined that Solicitor General Kagan possesses, to an exceptionally high degree, all of the qualifications enumerated in the Guidelines established by the Association for considering nominees to the United States Supreme Court: (1) exceptional legal ability;

(2) extensive experience and knowledge of the law; (3) outstanding intellectual and analytical talents; (4) maturity of judgment; (5) unquestionable integrity and independence; (6) a temperament reflecting a willingness to search for a fair resolution of each case before the Court; (7) a sympathetic understanding of the Court’s role under the Constitution in the protection of the personal rights of individuals; and (8) an appreciation for the historic role of the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of the meaning of the United States Constitution, including a sensitivity to the respective powers and reciprocal responsibilities of the Congress and Executive.

The Association has been evaluating judicial candidates for nearly 140 years in a non-partisan manner based upon the nominees’ competence and merit. Although the Association had evaluated a number of Supreme Court candidates over the course of its history, in 1987 it determined to evaluate every candidate nominated to the Supreme Court.

In 2007, the Association moved from a two-tier evaluation system in which candidates were found to be either “qualified” or “not qualified,” to a three-tier evaluation system. The ratings and the criteria that accompany them are as follows:

“Qualified.” The nominee possesses the legal ability, experience, knowledge of the law, intellectual and analytical skills, maturity of judgment, common sense, sensitivity, honesty, integrity, independence, and temperament appropriate to be a Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The nominee also respects precedent, the independence of the judiciary from the other branches of government, and individual rights and liberties.

“Highly Qualified.” The nominee is qualified, to an exceptionally high degree, such that the nominee is likely to be an outstanding Justice of the United States Supreme Court. This rating should be regarded as an exception, and not the norm, for United States Supreme Court nominees.

“Not Qualified.” The nominee fails to meet one or more of the qualifications above.

The report may be viewed at the City Bar’s Web site here:

About the Association
The New York City Bar Association ( was founded in 1870, and since then has been dedicated to maintaining the high ethical standards of the profession, promoting reform of the law, and providing service to the profession and the public. The Association continues to work for political, legal and social reform, while implementing innovative means to help the disadvantaged. Protecting the public’s welfare remains one of the Association’s highest priorities.