The president also noted, "For nearly two centuries there was not a single woman on the Supreme Court. When Elena was a clerk, there was just one. But when she takes her seat on that bench for the first time in history there will be three women serving on our nation's highest court."
Video of President Obama's remarks is available here. A transcript of the remarks is here.
Reaction to Kagan's confirmation:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told The Washington Post, "Her great strength, I believe, is that of a conciliator, a reconciler, being able to bring people together, and we've had a whole raft of 5-4 decisions."
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said, "Her qualifications, intelligence, temperament and judgment will make her a worthy successor to Justice John Paul Stevens."
In an analysis for The Wall Street Journal, Jess Bravin traces the similarities and differences in the careers of Kagan and Chief Justice John Roberts, now the two youngest members of the court, who "could wrestle over competing visions of American law for decades to come." They followed similar paths - "one groomed by the Democratic legal establishment, the other by the Republican" - they both worked in the administration and in prestigious clerkships, and their personalities overlap, each "exuding confidence without arrogance" and attracting supporters with opposite ideologies.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), quoted in Bravin's analysis, said, "She's smart, she's experienced as a manager, a consensus builder, as someone who's been on the front line. ... She will be an intellectual counterweight to Chief Justice Roberts."
Also, in the WSJ article, Erwin Chemerinsky said he doesn't believe Kagan is going to persuade Justice Kennedy, the swing vote, "where Stevens and [retired Justice David] Souter couldn't." "Ultimately, it is still the Kennedy court."
"She brings a keen intellect, considerable talent, and a commitment to core constitutional values," Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron said in a statement praising Kagan's confirmation. "We now call on the Senate to swiftly confirm all lower court nominees, many of whom have been languishing on the floor for months. It is time for the Senate to stop placing politics ahead of equal justice."