Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor Backs Elena Kagan Nomination

First woman on Supreme Court backs nominee Elena Kagan

ByABC News via GMA logo
May 26, 2010, 9:16 PM

May 27, 2010 — -- The first woman ever to sit on the nation's highest court has gotten behind Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, but warned her of the "dreadful, unpleasant" nomination process.

Retired justice Sandra Day O'Connor, now focused on a new web-based initiative to teach civics to students, said she believes Kagan, the U.S. solicitor general, will likely be confirmed.

"She seems to be very well qualified academically," O'Connor, 80, told "Good Morning America's" George Stephanopoulos today.

But she stopped short of offering any words of wisdom to President Obama's nominee.

"She doesn't need advice," O'Connor said. "But just, she'll have to go through the process of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. And I don't care who you are, it's a difficult, unpleasant experience for the nominee. It's just something you have to go through."

Now four years removed from her time on the bench, O'Connor has been working fervently on her newest passion: iCivics, a free, web-based education project designed to teach middle school students. It also offers teachers comprehensive teaching materials.

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According to a 2007 Annenberg Public Policy Center study, two out of three Americans can name a judge on "American Idol," the hit reality TV singing competition, but only 1 in 7 can name the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. O'Connor said that was "scary."

O'Connor said she hoped the iCivics would engage students across the country.

Half of U.S. states have stopped making civics and government a requirement for high school, she said, adding that she believed this was an "unintended consequence" of the No Child Left Behind Act, the controversial federal educational policy that rewards schools for meeting certain goals.

The program was "an incentive to the schools to get their kids up to snuff on math and science and reading, but they were not getting money for American history, or civics or anything else," she said.