69 law school deans endorse Kagan in letter to Senate

By Amy Goldstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 15, 2010; 4:15 PM

The deans of more than one-third of the nation's law schools have endorsed Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court, issuing a public letter that praises her legal analysis, writings, coalition-building skills and "understanding of both doctrine and policy."

The four-paragraph letter, dated eight days ago and addressed to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was distributed Tuesday by the White House, which is orchestrating support for President Obama's selection for the high court in preparation for her Senate confirmation hearings.

Kagan, 50, was dean of Harvard Law School for six years before she left last year to become solicitor general, the Obama administration's top lawyer in cases before the Supreme Court.

The endorsement was signed by 69 deans, including some, the letter says, who are personal friends of Kagan's. There are about 200 law deans in the United States, according to the Association of American Law Schools. The letter was written by the dean of Stanford Law School, Larry D. Kramer, on behalf of the others who signed it, including Kagan's successor at Harvard and the dean at the University of Chicago, where she taught in the first half of the 1990s.

The letter was signed by the deans of most Washington area law schools, with the exception of those at George Washington and George Mason universities.

The letter says that Kagan "excels along all relevant dimensions desired in a Supreme Court justice." It says her "writing in constitutional and administrative law are highly respected and widely cited." And it says she was a "superb" dean at Harvard, in part "because of her willingness to listen to diverse viewpoints and give them all serious consideration. . . . The same qualities that enabled her to unify what some described as a fractious campus will serve the nation, and the Constitution, well."

An aide to the Judiciary Committee's Republicans said that they have not received expressions of opposition to Kagan from any law school deans but noted that public endorsements or criticism of a nominee often surface shortly before the confirmation hearing, scheduled for Kagan to begin June 28.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company