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President Barack Obama nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan as successor to the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.
If confirmed, Kagan would become the first justice in nearly 40 years who has never served as a judge . The former Harvard Law School dean has served only one year as solicitor general, a post in which she argues cases on behalf of the government before the Supreme Court.
The last two justices who had not been judges, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell, joined the Supreme Court in 1972.
While no nomination is guaranteed to be approved by the Senate, Kagan is seen as having a good chance for confirmation.