The Republican National Committee (RNC) defended a statement from its chairman Monday, which Democrats said had the effect of defending slavery.

The RNC's communications director, Doug Heye, took to the committee's blog to defend a statement from RNC Chairman Michael Steele this morning, in which Steele criticized Elena Kagan for having referenced remarks by former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who had called the Constitution "defective" for permitting slavery.

President Barack Obama nominated Kagan to the Supreme Court this morning, to fill the vacancy left by the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

"As much as liberals want to make the concern Chairman Steele raised about Marshall and slavery, it isn’t," Heye wrote in a RNC blog post. "It’s about how Elena Kagan, who is being nominated for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land, views the role of the courts in our society."

Democrats seized on Steele's original statement this morning that referenced a 1993 law review article Kagan had written paying tribute to Marshall, the first African-American justice for whom she had clerked, referencing her former boss's characterization of "defective."

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) sent out a flurry of stories that were critical of Steele's statement, stories which, Heye wrote on Monday afternoon, mischaracterized the point the RNC had been trying to make.

Kagan's article, the RNC communications director contended, went beyond Marshall's original words, and endorsed the type of judicial activism against which conservatives have long railed during confirmation fights to the Supreme Court.

"The question for Kagan is whether she believes in a ‘modern Constitution’ shaped by activist judges pursuing personal political agendas or whether she believes in basing judicial decisions based on the Constitution and the rule of law," Heye wrote. "That was the point Chairman Steele raised and that is the issue Kagan must address in this confirmation process."