Political Notebook

Harvard's law dean on Obama short list

Kagan, 48, is Harvard Law School's first female dean. Kagan, 48, is Harvard Law School's first female dean.
January 3, 2009
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Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan is a leading candidate to be President-elect Barack Obama's representative at the US Supreme Court, according to people familiar with the selection process.

Kagan, the first female dean at Harvard Law School, and former Stanford Law School Dean Kathleen Sullivan are the two top contenders for solicitor general, a post that might be a step toward a seat on the Supreme Court itself.

Kagan, 48, became a top candidate after being passed over for deputy attorney general, a slot set to go to Washington lawyer David Ogden, the people familiar with the selection process said.

Kagan would be likely to garner bipartisan support; she won plaudits from liberals and conservatives alike for smoothing over the ideological tensions that plagued the Harvard Law School faculty before she became dean in 2003. She has never argued a Supreme Court case, but she worked with Obama on the University of Chicago Law School faculty during the 1990s.


Denver schools chief could be selected for Senate seat
DENVER - Colorado Governor Bill Ritter is expected to name Denver public schools superintendent Michael Bennet to fill a Senate vacancy created by President-elect Barack Obama's selection of Senator Ken Salazar as Interior secretary, sources said yesterday.

One source close to the governor and another source in the Democratic Party said that Ritter has chosen Bennet, who was considered a dark horse candidate because of his lack of legislative experience. Ritter scheduled a press conference for today to introduce his pick.

Bennet had been mentioned as a possible choice for Obama's education secretary, but Obama chose Arne Duncan, chief executive officer of Chicago public schools for that Cabinet post.

The Yale-educated lawyer in 2003 was tapped to be chief of staff for Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, who then encouraged him to apply for the superintendent job for the 150-school city system two years later.


Senate GOP would battle an early try to seat Franken
ST. PAUL - A top US Senate Republican said yesterday that the GOP caucus will fight any effort to seat Democrat Al Franken, who is embroiled in a bitter recount with Republican incumbent Norm Coleman in Minnesota.

Senator John Cornyn of Texas said Republicans will object to anyone taking the seat until an anticipated court case is finished and an official election certificate is conferred. Republicans will control enough seats in the Senate to mount a filibuster if necessary.

Pending the counting of hundreds of unopened absentee ballots, Franken holds a 49-vote lead over Coleman, whose term expires at noon today.

Minnesota's other senator, Democrat Amy Klobuchar, has said the man with the most votes after the recount concludes should be seated while legal matters play out. Franken hasn't discussed his intentions.

A court challenge and possible appeals could keep the Franken-Coleman contest unsettled for several months.

Hundreds of uncounted absentee ballots are due to be opened and examined today, and the Canvassing Board had hoped to wrap up its work by Tuesday.


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