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Supreme Court Nominee Would Have to Sit Out Major Tobacco Case

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If Elena Kagan is confirmed as a justice to the U.S. Supreme Court she would have to recuse herself from the government's case seeking $280 billion in past tobacco-industry profits and $14 billion for a national stop-smoking campaign, the Associated Press reported June 14.

As solicitor general, Kagan has already ruled on aspects of the racketeering case, meaning she is automatically conflicted out of ruling on it again if she becomes a member of the Supreme Court. That could make it very difficult for the government to win five votes in favor of the lawsuit, which is slated to go before the high court for possible review beginning on June 24.

Kagan also may have to recuse herself from a few dozen other cases because of similar conflicts, experts said. In addition to her position as solicitor general, Kagan also worked as a Clinton administration negotiator during an attempt to pass tobacco-control legislation in the 1990s.

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