June 28, 2010

If Elena Kagan worked a "Miracle at Harvard," what effect might she have on the Supreme Court?

An essay by University of New Mexico lawprof Kevin K. Washburn:
For most of the past fifty years, attending Harvard Law School was a miserable experience....

During Elena Kagan’s tenure as dean, a miracle occurred. Harvard Law School was transformed. Today, students embrace the institution. The professors engage with one another. And the school’s widely discussed dysfunctions are distant memories. Kagan accomplished this miracle by modeling two important and traditional American values: hard work and community. Kagan was known for walking the halls tirelessly to learn the views of her bright and independent colleagues and to seek consensus. She broke the gridlock between faculty political factions that had atrophied the academic life of the institution. Even more importantly, she transformed the student experience. This essay seeks to describe Kagan’s transformational leadership and provide insight as to the specific changes Kagan made to accomplish the miracle.
Let's take this all as true. Kagan has skills that worked brilliantly in the context a dean transforming a deeply dysfunctional, highly elite law school. But how will those skills apply in the context of an individual Justice on the Supreme Court? When a troubled law school brings in a new dean, it is looking for leadership and transformation. But there is no reason to think that the Supreme Court Justices look toward the newcomer for leadership at all, and she arrives to fill the seat that was vacated, not with any problem to be solved and institution to be transformed.


Quayle said...

"She broke the gridlock between faculty political factions that had atrophied the academic life of the institution."

Maybe people think she'll break the gridlock between those that think emerging life is a wonderful miracle, and those that think emerging life is a disposable appendage.

TMink said...

Kennedy is still the swing vote, and Kennedy was not impressed when she argued before the court. She replaces Stevens, a person who could persuade others. This is a step backward for the Progressives.


traditionalguy said...

The Lawless One expects to see Kagan as one of his own who will sign onto the power grabs of the lawless Central Government by fiat demanded by the crises he steers us into instead of around and out of. That rubber stamping Supreme Court could indeed be a key to our transformation.

Calypso Facto said...

Maybe the Supreme Court should implement that time-honored tradition used by other elite organizations to ensure that newcomers know their place: rookie hazing.

Hagar said...

I think the most troubling is the repeated statements that she all her life has aimed at getting on the Supreme Court. If there really is something to that, and it is not just reporters repeating each other, that is not a person who should be on the Supreme Court, never mind what the particular issue under discussion might be.

A.W. said...

The surrealism is amazing. Um, if she is such a wizard at administration--and everything I have heard of says yes--then why not put her in an executive position. Hey, here's an idea. Let's make HER the oil spill czar. Seriously, Obama would be a better Supreme Court Justice than President and Kagan would be a better president than Supreme Court Justice. So why not work out some kind of switch?

i stand by my assertion that Kagan would be great for moving the SC to the right, and thus consider her the best case scenario for a guy like me. But the contradiction of it all just leapt out at me this morning.

Scott M said...

I don't pretend to know much about her outside the normal MSM and blogoshpere retreads, but how does this appointment differ from Harriet Meyers? Other than the obvious fact that Harriet Meyers has no known track record in softball, that is.

Fen said...

Let's take this all as true

Even if it is, its all subjective.

As useless as the assertion that Obama has "repaired" international relations.

AJ Lynch said...

Is school supposed to be fun?

dogzilla said...

Justice Ginsburg's husband died over the weekend, too.

Wondering whether this will impact her decision to remain on the bench, or retire?

edutcher said...

Not my dish of oolong, but wouldn't the proof of her abilities be the quality of the lawyers turned out at Haavahd? Maybe the old system was better in that regard.

Simply because her regime was very touchy-feely doesn't make her work a 'miracle' (in the good sense).

After all, if you were going into battle, who would you want running your training, Bill Darby or Leo Buscaglia?

John Lofton, Recovering Republican said...

Just a short note, please, to ask you to listen to this important radio show we just did re: the nomination of Elena Kagan to be a Supreme Court Justice. Her confirmation hearing begins today June 28. On this program we discuss the most important questions: Where does true law come from? Answer: God, the God of the Bible. And: What is the role of a judge? Answer: To obey God and administer God’s Law. Your comments are welcome. Send them to me at email address below.

May God bless us as we obey Him,

John Lofton, Editor, TheAmericanView.com
Communications Director, Institute On The Constitution
Recovering Republican


Greg Hlatky said...

Seriously, Obama would be a better Supreme Court Justice than President

Naaah, that would mean taking a good look at his qualifications.

Blue@9 said...

Great, so she was an administrator for most of her career.

Which makes her like Clarence Thomas but with less time on the bench.

TMink said...

No time on the bench is a LOT less.


Seven Machos said...

The subtext here is really very hilarious. Left unstated is the conclusion that the Supreme Court would, of course, be more liberal if only someone with management skills could come in and coax everyone into line. Also left unstated is the premise that the only reason that the Supreme Court turns out decisions that are not the stuff of leftist wet dreams is because there is so much dysfunction.

Diversity good. Dysfunction bad. Must have a philosopher king or queen in place to steer this wayward group to good and proper ends.

Also, I happened to catch a few seconds of these hearings on television today. While I believe she should be approved, Elena Kagan is not a person who is elevated by high-definition television.