|Elena Kagan, a Supreme Court nominee without judicial experience, has suggested in writings and speeches over a quarter-century that when judges make decisions, they must take account of their values and experience and consider politics and policy, rather than act as robotic umpires.
Not since 1972 has a president picked someone for the high court who hasn't been a judge. So what the 50-year-old Kagan has said about judging might be the best indicator of the kind of justice she would be.
Republicans have said that because Kagan hasn't left a trail of judicial opinions, they will pore over her records as a Clinton White House aide and academic for any clues. Her speeches and papers from her time as dean of the Harvard Law School and, before that as a law professor and graduate student, are certain to get close attention at her confirmation hearing in late June.
Her words stand in contrast to the more technical view of judging voiced by Chief Justice John Roberts at his confirmation hearing five years ago. Roberts said he considered himself an umpire merely calling balls and strikes.
Kagan apparently has never directly addressed Roberts' comments. Republicans have held his description of the job as a model of judicial restraint and used it to criticize President Barack Obama for what they call his support of judicial activism — judges imposing their own views on the law.