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Former solicitors general back Kagan

The White House today released a letter from eight former Democratic and Republican U.S. solicitors general in support of Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court. The letter, sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee, includes all the solicitor generals from the past 25 years, including Republicans Ken Starr and Ted Olson.

In the letter, the former solicitors general argue that even though Kagan has never served as a judge, her experience as solicitor general gives her "a deep understanding of and appreciation of the Court." They note that the job allows her to "grapple with almost the full gamut of issues that become before the Supreme Court, and requires an understanding of the Court's approach."

In conjunction with release of the letter, the White House held a telephone conference call with Paul Clement, who served as George W. Bush's solicitor general, and Seth Waxman, who served the same position in the President Clinton's second term.

Both Clement and Waxman made the point that the solicitor general is often called the "10th justice," and that "it's hard to imagine a position that would lead to an easier transition" to SCOTUS justice. Indeed, there have been four justices who served as solicitor general -- William Taft, Stanley Reed, Robert Jackson, and Thurgood Marshall.