WASHINGTON - (AP) - President Barack Obama on Monday nominatedSolicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, declaring shewould demonstrate the same independence, integrity and passion forthe law exhibited by retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.
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If confirmed by the Senate, Kagan would become the third womanon the high court. Obama introduced her in the White House EastRoom as "my friend."
The former Harvard Law School dean "is widely regarded as oneof the nation's foremost legal minds," Obama said.
Kagan, 50, said she was "honored and humbled by thisnomination." She called it "the honor of a lifetime."
"I look forward to working with the Senate and thank you, Mr.President, for this honor of a lifetime."
Obama cited what he called Kagan's "openness to a broad arrayof viewpoints" and her "fairmindedness."
In a statement issued before Kagan had completed her remarks,the lawmaker who will preside over her confirmation hearing,Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, said, "The Senate shouldconfirm Ms. Kagan before" Labor Day.
"Our constituents deserve a civil and thoughtful debate on thisnomination, followed by an up-or-down vote," he said.