Meet Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan

There’s been a rumor floating around the political blogosphere that Elena Kagan, Obama’s Supreme Court Justice nominee, is a lesbian.

The story originated from former Bush administration aide and Republican Senate Staffer Ben Domenech. He’s a conservative blogger on CBS  where the story first broke and was subsequently slammed by the White House in response.  In the article, Domenech indicated that if the nomination went through, Kagan would be the first openly gay Justice.

The response from the White House was swift and decisive.

Anita Dunn, former White House communications director working with the administration on the supreme court vacancy had this to say: “The fact that they’ve chosen to become enablers of people posting lies on their site tells us where the journalistic standards of CBS are in 2010.”

She criticized CBS for giving a platform to a blogger with a history of plagiarism and accused him of applying the age old “Single, unmarried, childless, career-centered? Must be a gosh darn lesbian” stereotype usually applied to single women with successful careers.

The blogger later updated the post to say: “I have to correct my text here to say that Kagan is apparently still closeted — odd, because her female partner is rather well known in Harvard circles.”

I would speak more on the merits of or lack thereof of the lesbian rumor, but I won’t because I don’t care if she’s a lesbian or not. I find it patently absurd that the White House would find itself in the unusual position of defending someones heterosexuality in such a way as to make it seem as though choosing a lesbian for the court would be disastrous. It makes political sense for them to deny even if it were true, but it also makes the adminstration look weak in some regard.

What I am concerned about is where her political leanings fall and what impact they will have on her ability to exert fairness and sound reasoning while a Justice on the Supreme Court.

People shouldn’t assume that just because someone is a member of a minority group they automatically agree with everything that group stands for. I hope the White House is correct in their assertion that she’s not a lesbian. If the rumors are true someone will have some explaining to do. Besides, she doesn’t have to be gay to defend gay rights.

Here are a couple of things about Elena Kagan I thought I’d share. If we are to follow history, we should expect Kagan to be a strong supporter of civil liberties. She has advocated for equal rights in the past, namely in opposition to the discriminatory policies of the US military in relation to recruiting on Harvard’s campus. She called the military policy “unwise and unjust.”

Her political views are rumored to be progressive, but close friends and associates see her as a right of center – moderate. She’s not known to be outwardly or especially political.

She gets the side eye from me for her support ofexecutive privilege. Her view of executive powers are said to be “broad though not unlimited.” I’m disappointed to say she has almost no track record as it relates to the practical application of cultural diversity, except when she’s benefiting from it by being a woman. (Oops, did I say that?)

There’s little to no paper trail following Ms. Kagan’s political ideologies so it’s tough to know where she stands on some major issues (abortion, same-sex marriage, tort reform). She’s something of a blank slate which is a scary thought to consider for some and a welcome breath of fresh air for others.

Her track record while Dean of Harvard Law is impressive in both her diplomacy, civility and appreciation of the law, yet questionable depending on who you might ask. She considered a “consensus builder” and is credited for bringing academic fairness to Harvard by hiring conservatives onto staff to bridge a hiring gap that became far too liberal.

Kagan’s ideological principles seem to resonate on a plane where bipartisanship and cohesiveness work hand in hand. One on hand, she cleared the way for Harvard to hire conservatives by way of affirmative action. On the other hand, what about minorities and people of color? I won’t contend with the fact that either they didn’t apply or the ones that did weren’t qualified. Perhaps it was business as usual at Harvard Law, but what remains is a woman who is neither afraid to compromise or to powerfully persuade given the circumstances.

There will be those who argue against her lack of  judicial experience. I’d wager that oneof the reasons for this can be blamed on her nomination by Clinton getting blocked by Republicans in 1999. She clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall who was seen as a radical idealist in his day. The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to be a judge to be a Supreme Court Justice.

Conservatives may balk because she’s labeled progressive, and who knows, she could be a carpet munchin’ lesbo to boot. Progressives could take issue with her support of Bush nominees in the past as well as her stance on executive powers and not being as against the expansion of them as much as progressives would like. If she’s for federal rights over states rights, I’m right there with her.

She is a highly intelligent, articulate, lawyer and a efficient litigator whose liberal roots run deep. She met Obama in the 90s while working at the University of Chicago. She is not a virtual unknown by any stretch.

She’s a better choice than anyone that John McCain would have come up with. Why? Because Joe the Plumber would not have been a very good judge of anything, including his own character.

She graduated with honors from Princeton, Oxford and Harvard Universities. Her ability to critically think would put any bonafide intellect to shame. 

I don’t believe the balance of power in the Supreme Court will shift to any extreme if she wins the nomination. She’s more moderate than progressive so it’s safe to say the balance of power could very stay tilted ever-so-slightly to the right.

What she lacks in ideological muster she more than makes up for in possessing the wherewithal to convince the other side to recognize her interpretation as their own. She possesses the powers of persuasion. It’s one thing to appoint someone in the hopes that they will cast the “right” vote, but it’s another to appoint someone who will not only make a difference, but be the majority decision when it comes time to stand on the correct side of history.



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