In Elena Kagan, who is just one year apart from him in age, Obama has found somebody whose biography, temperament, and values (as far as they are known) closely resemble his own.
Like Obama, Kagan graduated Harvard Law School and taught law at the University of Chicago. Look into the backgrounds of Obama and Kagan, and you’ll find evidence of radicalism that was tempered by personal ambition. Obama served as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review and Kagan was the school’s first female dean, and they both had a reputation for treating conservatives fairly, despite ideological disagreements. Just as Obama ran for president on a thin public record, Kagan doesn’t offer much of a paper trail, leaving her views on many key issues open to speculation…
In announcing the nomination on Monday, Obama praised Kagan’s “temperament — her openness to a broad array of viewpoints; her habit, to borrow a phrase from Justice Stevens, ‘of understanding before disagreeing’; her fair-mindedness and skill as a consensus-builder.” He spoke of her recruitment of conservative professors and her encouraging students to “to respectfully exchange ideas and seek common ground…”
All of those are qualities that, coincidentally, Obama’s admirers see in him. In Rosen’s article making the case for Obama as Supreme Court justice, he writes that “it’s [Obama’s] even temperament and low boiling point that seem tailor-made for the court at this polarized moment.”