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Kagan nominated to Supreme Court

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden introduce Solicitor General Elena Kagan as Obama's nominee for 112th Supreme Court justice in the East Room of the White House -- May 10, 2010.

President Obama has just nominated Elena Kagan for Supreme Court Justice. She's the former dean of Harvard Law School and currently serves as the Justice Department's solicitor general. In her time with the Obama administration, she's argued for stricter business regulation.

"During her time in this office, she's repeatedly defended the rights of shareholders and ordinary citizens against uscrupulous corporations," President Obama said to the press. "Last year in the Citizens United case, she defended bipartisan campaign finance reform against special interests seeking to spend unlimited money to influence our elections."

If confirmed, 50-year-old Kagan would be the youngest Supreme Court Justice.


TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Stacey Vanek-Smith: Word this morning is President Obama will nominate Elena Kagan for Supreme Court Justice. John Dimsdale joins us live from Washington to talk about this. Good morning, John.

John Dimsdale: Good morning, Stacey.

Vanek-Smith: John, Kagan's not a judge, so she doesn't have the usual paper trail of decisions. But she has taken several stands on behalf of the government. What do we know about how a Kagan's track record when it comes to business?

Dimsdale: Well in her fairly short tenure as Solicitor General, she represented investors who lost money when the big drug company Merck withdrew its Vioxx pain drug. In another case, she argued for limits on corporate spending for campaign ads. That's a case that she narrowly lost in the Supreme Court.

Vanek-Smith: Do we have any sense of how Kagan might come down on banking regulations if some of the congressional efforts to rein in the banking industry end up before the Supreme Court?

Dimsdale: Well there's one item in Kagan's past that could get her in trouble with some senators is her work on an advisory board for Goldman Sachs. Sachs is now under scrutiny for contributing to the 2008 financial meltdown. The White House is defending her saying that the panel she worked on had nothing to do with the packaging of dubious mortgage securities -- which the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating at Goldman Sachs).

Vanek-Smith: What kind of business cases would Justice Kagan be ruling on?

Dimsdale: Well that Vioxx case I mentioned might be relevant because the court will likely rule on whether federal law protects vaccine manufacturers from lawsuits in state courts. There's also a case of copyright infringement from the Swiss watch maker Swatch, which is suing Costco for selling cheap Swatches that Costco obtained from third parties.

Vanek-Smith: Interesting stuff. John Dimsdale in Washington. Thank you, John.

Dimsdale: You're welcome.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.
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