A conservative judge whose Supreme Court nomination was once famously derailed by Senate Democrats criticized Obama court pick Elena Kagan on Wednesday for her judicial "immaturity" and inexperience.
Robert Bork joined anti-abortion group Americans United for Life in a conference call to discuss Kagan's upcoming confirmation hearings, which begin Monday.
"Ms. Kagan has not had time to develop a mature philosophy of judging," said Bork, adding that the former Harvard dean's tenure in academia did not offer her the experience necessary to serve on the high court.
"The academic world is not a place in which you learn prudence and caution, and other virtues of a judge, and she has not had experience anywhere else that I know of," Bork said.
Bork's career progression shares some commonalities with Kagan's. Both worked in academia before being selected for the position of solicitor general. Bork went on to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for five years.
Much of Bork's criticism centered on Kagan's admiration of Aharon Barak, the former president of the Supreme Court of Israel, whom Bork considers "the worst judge on the planet." Barak has been derided by American conservatives as the prototype of an "activist" jurist.
Bork believes that Kagan’s nomination was rooted in the president’s desire to make history with the nomination of an additional woman to serve on the high court. "For some reason, presidents get all excited for having 'firsts', and this would be the first court with three female judges on it," Bork said.
In 1987, Bork was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan, but the Senate rejected the nomination. In 1995, Kagan wrote a law review article praising Bork's confirmation process as the standard by which all should be met.
While Bork opposes Kagan's nomination, one of his former clerks – whose later nomination to a federal judgeship was also blocked by Senate Democrats – spoke in her defense Wednesday.
Peter Keisler, who clerked for Bork shortly before Bork's nomination to the high court, joined a White House conference call to praise Kagan’s temperament and urge her confirmation.
"The most important thing to think about when evaluating the nominees for the Supreme Court, or for that matter for any court, is what qualities of temperament, integrity, open-mindedness, and fair-mindedness they have," Keisler said. "And if you trust yourself to people who have those qualities — as I really think Elena does — then over the long haul, we will be well served."
Keisler is the second of Kagan's supporters whose nomination by President George W. Bush was blocked by Democrats. Former appeals court nominee Miguel Estrada signed a letter of support from 28 former Supreme Court law clerks who served alongside Kagan. The Supreme Court nominee clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall from 1987 to 1988.
Msnbc.com’s Tom Curry contributed reporting
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