The Big Question: Is Kagan the right pick?



Mary Kay Henry, president of State Employees International Union, said:


Working people are facing hardships we haven’t seen in generations. Because of these challenges, people need a Supreme Court – now, more than ever – that will stand up for their interests. Not corporate interests but the people’s interests.

As the daughter of a public school teacher and a lawyer who defended the rights of tenants, Elena Kagan understands first-hand the direct impact courts have on people’s lives. Her commitment to fairness and to justice for everyday people has earned her respect across the ideological spectrum.

The people deserve justices like Kagan – justices whose allegiance to equal justice and the rule of law trumps politics and corporate influence. And, nothing could be more important than restoring the Court’s commitment to these principles.

The Senate now has an opportunity to have a thoughtful discussion about the rule of law and the role of the Court in people’s lives. We are confident her experience as one of the nation’s leading legal minds and her record as a trailblazer make Elena Kagan worthy of swift confirmation.


Tom Minnery, Senior Vice President of Focus on the Family Action, said:

“We are extremely disappointed by the President’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.
 
“Kagan’s nomination is a triumph for liberal ideology and judicial activism. She has never been a judge, nor written a judicial opinion. In fact, she has very limited experience in the actual practice of law. Her resume reveals her to be an academic who has served liberal judges, liberal presidents, and liberal universities. Her entire career has been lived in a narrow slice of the judicial spectrum.
 
“Even with her sparse legal record, one thing stands out – her emotional and legal commitment to the LGBT agenda. Calling the federal prohibition against gays serving in the military ‘a profound wrong, a moral injustice of the first order,’ she argued to the Supreme Court that law schools should be allowed to exclude military recruiters from campus while still accepting hundreds of millions in federal dollars, a position which the Supreme Court unanimously rejected, including the very liberal justice she would be replacing, Justice Stevens.
 
“Sadly, we look for a Justice Kagan to work for the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act and the judicial imposition of same-sex marriage upon all 50 states. We expect a continuation on her part of the Leftist allegiance to abortion-on-demand as well as the standard hostility to religion in the public square that has come to epitomize the liberal wing of the court.
 
“Americans have time and time again voiced their desire for judges who will judge according to the text and original understanding of our laws and Constitution. It is that fidelity to our Founders’ intent for the proper role and responsibility of the judiciary that makes a good Supreme Court justice. Yet for the second time in two years, the president has nominated someone who is committed to molding the law and the Constitution into something more to their liking rather than demonstrating what should be the non-negotiable quality of judicial restraint.
 
“We oppose this nomination and call upon the Senate to reject it as well. America deserves better.”





Ira Forman, executive director of National Jewish Democratic Council, said:

    Given that a Democratic President is going to pick someone on the progressive side of the spectrum any objective observer is going to then look to a nominee's qualifications— intellectual and professional.  By this standard Solicitor General Kagan is a homerun. 

    She is probably more of conciliator than her former boss, Justice Thurgood Marshall. However, she will be a welcome advocate for those who do not always have enough of a voice on a court that increasingly represents the powerful.


Bernie Quigley,
Pundits Blog contributor, said:

I see nothing apparently wrong with her, but we are at a time, as the Walrus said, to think of many things. Why do all the Supremes go to Harvard or Yale? Why do they all appear to be from New York? What’s wrong with Texas, California, Chicago or Tennessee law schools? Why are they chosen for ethnicity or social type instead of region, as the Constitution intended? This is no longer federalism. Why, even, do we need a Supreme Court, particularly if we are all to be judged by Harvard types and New Yorkers? As Justice Roberts said recently, they basically do the same thing as the lower courts. I don’t see why we New Englanders can’t be trusted to judge ourselves. These should be the rising issues. This goes back to Hamilton and Jefferson. The “participation mystique” which calls for black, Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Newyorican, women, gay, Jewish,  Irish-Catholic, Irish-Protestant, Irish-Buddhist, Polish, Chinese, Jewish-female-lesbian, Catholic, Mormon, Druid, Buddhist-vegan, Valley Girl-Zoroastrian,  demolishes the idea of federalism and begins to look like a comic Lenny Bruce routine. Or, like the last American election and now England’s, an American Idol lineup. We are using the Supreme Court to indicate a selective and conspicuous elite, much like that which surrounded the Hapsburg court or the Dauphin of France.


A.B. Stoddard,
associate editor and columnist at The Hill, said:

There is no right choice when it comes to selecting someone to serve as the ninth justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. Elena Kagan is widely respected as a brilliant trailblazer, the first woman to be dean of Harvard Law School and also to be U.S. Solicitor General. President Obama has known her for years, since he and Kagan taught together at the University of Chicago. Vice President Biden has known her for years, she worked for him when he was a senator more than 15 years ago, helping to confirm Ruth Bader Ginsburg as President Clinton's nominee for the high court. Kagan was always their second choice - Obama gave her the courtroom experience she had never had my making her solicitor general first. Republicans will likely rough her up but not block her. She is as capable as anyone of becoming the first pick since William Rehnquist in 1972 to be confirmed without having been a judge. Once she is on the court though - with the exception of the issue of the ban on homosexuals in the military - no one on the right or left can really know what to expect.



Tom Fitton
, president of Judicial Watch, said:
 
President Obama's nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court is irresponsible. Ms. Kagan is a liberal activist and political operative with no experience as judge.  A Supreme Court nominee ought to have significant practical experience as a lawyer or a judge - especially a nominee for the nation's highest court. Her decision to throw the military recruiters off the campus of Harvard Law School during a time of war shows she is far to the left of mainstream America.  The fact that she continued to work in the Clinton White House after it became clear that President Clinton lied under oath raises questions about her ethical judgment. And her record, as spotty as it is, shows that Ms. Kagan is a committed liberal judicial activist.
 
With looming constitutional battles ranging from Obamacare to illegal immigration, the United States Senate should ensure that only a justice who will strictly interpret the U.S. Constitution is approved.  There’s no reason to believe that Ms. Kagan meets this standard.  Given the stakes, every U.S. Senator should know that the upcoming vote on Ms. Kagan will be as closely watched as their votes on Obamacare.”
 
Tom Fitton is president of Judicial Watch, a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational foundation that promotes transparency, accountability and fidelity to the rule of law.


John M. Snyder, Public Affairs Director of Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, said:

This depends to a large extent on the questions during Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings she may be asked regarding her appreciation of the Second Amendment and on how she responds to such questions.
 
About 100 million law-abiding adult American citizens own about 200 million rifles, shotguns and handguns.  Americans purchase well over 10 million firearms a year.  This is a large community, many millions larger than the community of voters for any presidential candidate in any election.
 
As a result of some controversy regarding the position of Justice Sotomayor on firearms and the right to self-defense at the time of her nomination and confirmation, the Second Amendment community began to realize the significance of Supreme Court justices' opinions on these matters.
 
This realization continues and will continue and probably will increase.
 



Grover Norquist,
president of Americans for Tax Reform, said:

Elena Kagan is the expected choice for Obama as a Supreme Court nominee in the sense that the massive spending “stimulus” bill was Obama’s expected behavior and a massive government takeover of the health care sector was Obama’s expected decision on heath care.

Obama has to date avoided Clinton’s immersion in divisive social issues and his stated and revealed contempt for the military.  Nominating Kagan who banned military recruiters from Harvard puts Obama deliberately and squarely at odds with those Americans who like their country and its military that defends it.

It adds a new dimension to Obama’s estrangement from most Americans.




Justin Raimondo, editorial director of Antiwar.com, said:

No. Kagan's endorsement of the expansive view of executive power is a danger to our civil liberties, which is why prominent neoconservatives such as Bill Kristol have praised her. This should be the final wake-up call for liberals and "progressives" who told us that we HAD to elect a Democrats, no matter what, because we couldn't afford to let the Supreme Court go further to the right, i.e. further toward the view that the President is a virtual dictator in wartime, that he can declare anyone an "enemy combatant," and to heck with the Constitution. Now we have, in Kagan, precisely that sort of Supreme Court nominee -- and liberals are falling all over themselves praising her and supporting her. Glenn Greenwald, of Salon, is one of the few liberals who has the courage to say what is: that this is "tribal" politics that reflects the authoritarianism and leader-worship we all thought was the signature characteristic of the Bushian GOP. Looks to me like it's a bipartisan phenomenon.