Mitchell Reports | May 10, 2010
>> small suv .
>>> republican critics are kol raling their arguments against elena kagan even before she has a chance to make the rounds tomorrow. senator john cornyn said -- valerie jarrett joins us live from the white house . i plead guilty to being d.c. , your hyde park . how do you respond to senator cornyn's view of kagan 's quote, limited experience?
>> i think we're fortunate the president has not made somebody elena kagan who is a nationally recognized constitutional law scholar. she's had a wide range of experiences from being a constitutional law professor to being a dean of harvard law school where she brought together a great cross section of people with a wide range of ideas . she's been solicitor general , approved by the senate on a bipartisan basis. i think she's looking forward to earning the respect and confidence of the committee and seeking full senate approval and she's an outstanding, outstanding nominee.
>> want to give you a chance to respond to something from a guest just now. professor ifil. pointed out that at harvard , had not appointed a single faculty member who was african-american -- only an asian american .
>> i think if you speak with her peers at harvard , what they would tell you is what people actually the ones that recommend faculty members . if you look at what she did with students, she was very active at recruiting a wide range of diverse students and if you speak to the african-american faculty they'll tell you what an effort she made to be inclusive and make students feel comfortable and reach out broadly around the country . so i think her track record is outstanding and you'll hear from the testimony and the supporters who worked with her both at harvard and the university of chicago that she really appreciates diversity, welcomes it, and that's why she has a cross section of support .
>> is it going to be a stretch to try to give her the kind of personal story that made sonia sotomayor so appealing? i mean, this is a political campaign and she had a great narrative. elena kagan is a new yorker who went to harvard law and has worked her whole life in public service but certainly within a certain ivy league east coast community. how do you make her more appealing on a broader scale to the rest of the country ?
>> well, it's a good question. let's look at her background. her parents are both children of immigrants. her parents dedicated their lives to teaching. she has brothers who are teachers. i think the fact that she grew up with the circumstances that she did and the fact that she has devoted her life to public service is a very important quality. with her skill she could be a senior partner at a major law firm anywhere in the country yet chose to devote her life to public service . and the work she did as dean where she brought together people of all kinds of diverse ideas and encouraged them to talk to one another, the fact that she listens before she decides, the fact that she has been and is so proud of the fact that as solicitor general as she described the morning the fact that that job was to represent the united states of america , the most important job she could possibly hold. so i think her track record really does speak volumes about not only her expertise as a lawyer and as a constitutional scholar, but her heart and the fact that she understands what it's like to be an ordinary person . she really has lived the american dream . she grew up, studied hard, did well, and devoted her life to public service . i think that speaks volumes.
>> a senator who is also a physician has said today and the republican national committee is saying in e-mails that the legal test of health care is going to be a test at the confirmation hearings. do you think this is a fair line of questioning as to whether she thinks health care reform should be repealed and whether that should be a test of her confirmation?
>> you know what? i leave it to the senators and the judiciary committee chaired by chairman leahy to make those decisions. i do know she is looking forward to the testimony and the individual meetings she'll have with the senators in the days and weeks ahead. she's very forthcoming and honest. her character and integrity will be apparent. i remind you that she was approved on a bipartisan basis when she was up for solicitor general and she is going to approach this with the same open and transparent spirit.
>> of course , briefly, some of them including senator collins has said of course she doesn't have a long judicial record but more importantly some of the very republicans who voted for her as solicitor general say this is different. it's a lifetime appointment. what is your response?
>> it is a different position but i think the same way she was forthcoming when she was being nominated for solicitor general , it is that character and spirit that will come through when she has her confirmation hearings for this. it is a lifetime appointment. it's very important. and she is looking forward to earning the trust and the confidence of the committee and answering their questions in a very forth right and honest and clear manner and we're confident that when she does that she'll earn their support .
>> valerie jarrett from the white house lawn, thank you. great to see you. thanks for joining us.
>> you're welcome.
>> on a very important day.
>>> what political story will be