msnbc | May 12, 2010
>>> you live when it happens. in the meantime i'm joined by ken starr , dean of pepperdine, former solicitor general , as well as former bill clinton independent prosecutor. good to see you, sir. as i mentioned, you've been solicitor general . you know very well about kagan 's other professional experience . do you have a problem with her nomination , the fact that she hadn't served as a judge in we've been hearing so much about that?
>> no, not at all. i think being a judge is helpful for background reasons but it's obviously not necessary. the majority of our supreme court justices have not had judicial service previously. some of our most renowned ones are not. helpful but not necessary. to the country , she has been an outstanding teacher, a wonderful academic, a very successful dean at the harvard law school , which might sound like an easy job but it's a tough job. she's a great community builder . she's going to bring a lot of skills there.
>> leads me to my next question. back in 2009 , you signed a bipartisan letter signed by others who also served as solicitor general extolling her virtues. in that letter you talk about a breadth of experience , brilliant intellect, respected by the justices. you still feel that way?
>> i do. she's had a really fine run. she's in electially honest. one of the great things about elena, justice kagan , when she argues cases, the justices know she is coming to them very forthrightly. she is so bright. everyone knows that she's the smartest kid on the block kind of person. i think this experience in presenting argument, listening to the court , watching the court up close, being peppered with questions by eight members of the court that she'll be joining is going to be very helpful background to her. she brings all those gifts to bear.
>> what do you make of we're hearing conservative politicians, including senator inhofe coming out and saying he's not supporting this right now and conservatives in the media calling her another left activist, or,?r%iquote, a pure academic elitist radical. is that the same person you know? do those characterizations surprise you?
>> that's politics. unfortunately confirmation politics have been very ugly with a few happy enter luds every since the nomination of judge robert bourque. that was a tragedy the way he was treated as he was. there have been happy moments, justice ginsburg , suter, more respectful. that isn't to say there shouldn't be a probing inquiry. obviously the solicitor general brings a written record to bear, and it's very important for the justices to probe into that, including her position with respect to military recruiters on law school campuses. these are legitimate areas of inquiry.
>> that was a bit of a controversy during her time as dean at harvard .
>>> let me ask you this, sir. no one is expecting republicans to filibuster the nomination . but as we've heard , they are vowing to vigorously challenge her. as you've said, that's politics. is that the right strategy?
>> well, it may be good politics, but i don't think it's good for the court . we have been through a generation of very divisive politics, which i think is not serving the court well. therefore, i don't think it serves the country well. but far be it from me to question the tactics of folks who are elected by their constituents to carry a particular voice. i just wish for the sake of the country that there were less rancor and acr acrimony.
>> as you're speaking we're waiting to see elena kagan at her first meeting of the day. there's a live picture . let me ask you as we wait for the two of them to come out. do you expect anything sub assistant ifr to come out of these meetings today? it's one after another. how likely is it she's going to reveal her stance on hot button issues.
>> very unlikely. you put it well. it's a meet and greet . it's an opportunity for the senators, and i think this is healthy. hey, solicitor general categorion, this is what is really of concern to me. some of the senators may, in fact, try to draw her out with respect to specific issues. but she is so smart and so able. she knows, and i think she's backed away from some of her own writings to the affect that she thinks the senators should be very probing, have a robust inquiry and i understand that. but the justice designate has to be circumsuspect in what she says. i think ruth vader ginsburg was. they have to be careful because of the value of the independence of the court .
>> ken starr , i know you're wrapping up your time at pepperdine law school and heading to baylor. good luck to you. thanks for being with