Elena Kagan Is a Strategic, Not Overtly Political Supreme Court Pick

President Barack Obama meets with Solicitor General Elena Kagan in the Oval Office last month.
White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama's decision to tap Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court, as we reported last night, makes clear he was thinking strategically about the Court this time around.

Unlike his selection last year of Sonia Sotomayor, Kagan is not an overtly political pick -- she will be something of a fight with Republicans, she doesn't appease the liberal base, she's not a Washington outsider and she doesn't bring ethnic or racial diversity.

What she brings is intellectual heft and a keen analytical mind, with a proven track record of consensus building. This is a pick that shows the president is thinking long-term. At 50, Kagan could serve on the Court for a generation and become one of its most effective voices on the Left.

She was the frontrunner from the beginning, and this nomination was hers to lose. Bob Schieffer reminded me this morning that I made two predictions on the very first Face the Nation of 2010. One was that Mr. Obama would tap Kagan for the Supreme Court this year. The second was that the Alabama Crimson Tide would win the national championship.

The Tide delivered with a crushing defeat over Texas. And now Kagan will walk out with the president soon in the East Room, where she'll be introduced to the nation as his choice to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

I'll go ahead and predict a 14th national championship for the Tide in 2011. As for the Court, my bet is Mr. Obama will have to wait another couple years before he gets his third nomination.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg may relish the opportunity to serve with two women --- and doesn't seem like she is in any hurry to retire.

More Coverage of Kagan's Nomination:

Obama to Nominate Elena Kagan to Supreme Court
Early Conservative Reaction to Kagan Nomination
Jan Crawford, Bob Schieffer on Why Obama Nominated Kagan
Schieffer Sees Bitter, Vicious Fight Over Kagan
Eliot Spitzer: Kagan Would "Get the Fifth Vote"
Commentary: Elena Kagan's Goldman Sachs "Connection"
Kagan Had Rapid Ascent to High Court Nomination

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    Jan Crawford is CBS News Chief Political and Legal Correspondent. She is from "Crossroads," Alabama.