Despite the predictable smears from conservative partisans in the media, President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan has been praised by many leading figures on the right. Media Matters has documented examples of conservatives, legal experts, and media figures complimenting Kagan's intelligence, judgment, and fairness.
Praise for Kagan: "awesomely intelligent," "well-respected by just about everybody on both sides"
Reagan Solicitor General Charles Fried described Kagan as an "awesomely intelligent person." In a letter supporting her nomination for solicitor general, Fried -- solicitor general during the Reagan administration -- said Kagan "is a superb lawyer and an awesomely intelligent person." He added: "In discussions with students and in conference and dispute with colleagues, she has a deftness, a quickness and an aptness of phrase -- with no tincture at all of pomposity or self-importance -- that show she will be able to argue to the Court with consummate skill."
Bush judicial nominee Estrada has "never met a lawyer who knows Elena and is not utterly impressed by her intellect." In a letter supporting her nomination for Solicitor General, Miguel Estrada -- who Bush nominated to be a D.C. Circuit judge -- stated that he had sat next to Kagan in many law school classes and has "never met a lawyer who knows Elena and is not utterly impressed by her intellect."
Bush official and judicial nominee Keisler: Kagan "was brilliant, thoughtful, independent, and creative." Former Bush Justice Department official and D.C. Circuit nominee Peter Keisler wrote: "I have known Elena since we clerked together. Although we served different Supreme Court Justices, I came to know her well. Our clerk colleagues were an impressive group, but Elena was a standout even in that setting. ... She was brilliant, thoughtful, independent, and creative, but without even a hint of arrogance that sometimes accompanies such talent."
NRO's Daniel Foster praised Kagan as being "well-respected by just about everybody on both sides." In an April 9 post on The Corner, National Review Online news editor Daniel Foster wrote that Kagan "is well-respected by just about everybody on both sides":
Elena Kagan -- The first-female Solicitor General and probably first-runner-up for the Sotomayor seat, Kagan has a record of the kind of cagey jurisprudence that is ideal for a tough confirmation battle. She is well-respected by just about everybody on both sides, but lacks the paper trail that would reveal just how far to the left she'd sit.
Bush administration assistant AG Goldsmith: "Kagan combines principle, pragmatism, and good judgment better than anyone I have ever met." In a letter supporting Kagan's nomination for solicitor general, Jack Goldsmith -- former assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush administration stated: "It might seem over the top to say that Kagan combines principle, pragmatism, and good judgment better than anyone I have ever met. But it is true."
Starr, Olson and other former solicitors general: Kagan held in "high regard" by "persons of a wide variety of political and social views." In a letter sent by people who "serv[ed] as Solicitor General over the past quarter century, from 1985 to 2009," Charles Fried, Kenneth Starr, Drew Days, Walter Dellinger, Seth Waxman, Theodore Olson, Paul Clement, and Gregory Garre stated:
The well-deserved stature that Kagan has achieved in the legal profession will enhance her tenure as Solicitor General, ensuring that, within the executive branch, her voice and the conclusions reached by the Solicitor General will be accorded the highest respect. The extraordinary skill she has demonstrated in bringing to Harvard an impressive array of new scholars, her ability to manage and lead a complex institution, and the high regard in which she is held by persons of a wide variety of political and social views, suggest that she will excel at the important job of melding the views of various agencies and departments into coherent positions that advance the best interests of the national government.
Former Bush lawyer Berenson lauded Kagan's "fair-minded consideration of competing views." From a letter sent by former Bush administration assistant White House counsel Bradford Berenson supporting Kagan's solicitor general nomination:
Her legal acumen is more than equal to the task she faces, as reflected in her scholarship. The spirit of toleration and fair-minded consideration of competing views she brought to the Deanship reflect the sort of temperament and judgment that will inspire confidence in the Justices of the Supreme Court as well as the private parties with whom she will need to interact as SG. The same institutional loyalty that has enabled her to put Harvard Law School's interests ahead of her own will undoubtedly cause her to do likewise in service of the United States.
Fox News' Hayes: Kagan is "persuasive to those who might not otherwise be pre-disposed to agree with her." On the May 7 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Fox News contributor Steve Hayes stated that Kagan "is, by all accounts from people who have dealt with her personally and intellectually, someone who can make convincing and compelling arguments and marshal her arguments in a way that is persuasive to people who might not otherwise be predisposed to agree with her. And I think you're seeing that to a certain extent in the sort of half-embrace that she's getting from some conservatives, particularly conservative academics."
NAACP-LDF's Payton: Kagan "has proven to be one of the most capable and distinguished legal minds today." From a letter sent by John Payton, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc.:
Dean Kagan has served at the highest levels of the Executive Branch, been a law clerk for distinguished jurists, including Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, worked in the private sector for a highly-regarded law firm, been a law professor and is currently Dean of the nation's leading law school. Through these various roles, she has proven to be one of the most capable and distinguished legal minds today.
I know Dean Kagan. She combines intellectual depth with curiosity and dynamism. I am also a Harvard Law School graduate and I regularly visit the campus. Harvard Law School has undergone tremendous transformation and development under her leadership -- in its curriculum, in its diversity, and in its vibrancy.
Laurence Tribe: Kagan "is the ideal advocate for an administration that seeks common ground among partisan opponents." Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe wrote:
Simultaneously respectful of the views of others and capable of diplomatically identifying and correcting gaps in their understanding, Elena Kagan is the ideal advocate for an administration that seeks common ground among partisan opponents and that must grapple with the most difficult domestic and foreign challenges any incoming President has had to face in many generations.
Former assistant solicitors general: "Kagan is a person of great legal and personal skills, intellect, integrity, independence, and judgment." Six former assistant solicitors general -- four of whom also served as deputy solicitors general -- wrote: "In sum, Dean Kagan is a person of great legal and personal skills, intellect, integrity, independence and judgment. We therefore believe, based on extensive personal experience, that she has all the attributes that are essential to an outstanding Solicitor General."