Podesta on Kagan


CAP/AF founder and CEO John Podesta worked with Elana Kagan in the Clinton administration and I think it’s fair to say he’s a Kagan enthusiast. His statement focuses on a slice of her career that hasn’t been widely discussed and focuses on the Supreme Court’s important economic role:

In this sense, Kagan is a welcome contrast to the narrow, conservative voices that dominate today’s Supreme Court. General Kagan forged a bipartisan consensus in favor of regulations preventing tobacco companies from marketing their products to children. Despite this consensus, a conservative 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court adopted an implausible reading of federal law to declare such regulations invalid in 2000. Unlike these conservative justices, Kagan understands that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what a powerful industry says it should be.

In other words, General Kagan will be a much-needed progressive voice on a Court dominated by conservatives who believe in one set of laws for the powerful, and another set of laws for ordinary Americans. She will make an outstanding Supreme Court justice.

The intra-progressive dispute about Kagan aside, I wish these economic regulation issues had higher salience in Supreme Court debates. Ultimately, I think these are the issues where the composition of the Court makes the biggest difference.