Washington (CNN) — President Obama took a key step in cementing his judicial legacy Monday, nominating Solicitor General Elena Kagan to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court.
If confirmed, the 50-year-old Kagan will become the 112th Supreme Court justice. She would be the third woman on the nine-member bench and the fourth in the history of the court.
At its discretion, the court decides cases on the Constitution or federal law that may begin in federal or state courts.
Her confirmation also would mean that the Supreme Court would have no Protestant justices for the first time in its history. Kagan, who is Jewish, would join six Catholic and two Jewish justices; Stevens is Protestant.
Kagan, a native New Yorker, was widely reported to be the front-runner for the nomination. She was a finalist for the high court vacancy last year, when Justice Sonia Sotomayor was selected to replace the retiring David Souter.