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Monday, January 5, 2009

Obama Taps First Woman to Be Solicitor General

President-elect Barack Obama has announced more of his picks to fill top posts at the Justice Department. While he announced his historic nomination of Eric Holder to serve as the first African-American attorney general last month, on-lookers from the legal community were eagerly awaiting word on who he’d select to fill other high-level department posts. Well, news broke today that the president-elect would continue making history by selecting Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan to serve as solicitor general.

Ms. Kagan is certainly no stranger to shattering glass ceilings. In 2003, she became the first woman in history to serve as dean of Harvard Law School. She also comes with an impressive legal background. Having graduated from Harvard Law herself, Ms. Kagan went on to clerk for Judge Abner Mikva of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Thurgood Marshall of the Supreme Court. She served as law professor at University of Chicago Law School and was nominated by President Bill Clinton to fill a vacancy on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in 1999. Unfortunately, her nomination stalled in the Judiciary Committee -- President Bush later named now-Chief Justice John Roberts to fill the vacancy to which she’d been nominated.

President-elect Obama also named David Ogden as deputy attorney general, Tom Perrelli as associate attorney general and Dawn Johnson as assistant attorney general for the office of legal counsel. In a statement today, the president-elect said that “these individuals bring the integrity, depth of experience and tenacity that the Department of Justice demands in these uncertain times.” Sounds like a much-needed breath of fresh air for a department that has been plagued by hyper-partisanship for the last eight years.

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