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Obama names Jewish woman as solicitor general

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Barack Obama has nominated a Jewish woman to serve as his solicitor general.

Elena Kagan, the dean of the Harvard Law School, would be the first female to serve in the job. The nomination must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

The solicitor general represents the U.S. government at the Supreme Court, arguing cases and filing briefs stating the government’s position when the government is not a direct party to the case. The position is often seen as a steppingstone to a Supreme Court nomination.

Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, praised the appointment. Saperstein had dealings with Kagan when she was a lawyer and policy adviser in the Clinton White House.

"She’s the quintessential Barack Obama appointment: She’s intellectually brilliant, and politically gifted at finding common ground and finding consensus," said Saperstein, who added that Kagan "knows First Amendment issues very well" and "really knows the Jewish community well."

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