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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Backlash on Kagan Appointment

Even before the nomination was official, and just hours after President Obama appointed Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, the nay-sayers were out in full force with questions about the former dean of Harvard Law School.

A group of law professors have openly questioned Kagan’s diversity record at Harvard. During her time as dean, Kagan made thirty-two tenured and tenure-track academic hires. Of these thirty-two, only one was a minority, and only seven were women.

In 1997, Kagan as a White House adviser, urged then-President Clinton to support a ban on late-term abortions. (Not exactly a bad thing, right?).

Further detractors have also criticized her as being "anti-military" while she served as solicitor general and have referred to her as "an extremist bent on harming the military's efforts to hire some of the best law school graduates in the country."

In her defense, Kagan's Predecessor at Harvard Law School, Robert Clark, has a few words of his own, in what the White House is calling his attempt to "set the record straight on the school's military recruiting policy".   Clark has written an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal where he writes, "Ms. Kagan basically followed a strategy toward military recruiting that was already in place. Here, some background may be helpful: Since 1979, the law school has had a policy requiring all employers who wish to use the assistance of the School's Office of Career Services (OCS) to schedule interviews and recruit students to sign a statement that they do not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, and so on."

Read the entire article here

Kagan replaced Justice John Paul Stevens who retired earlier this month.

President Obama said of his appointment, "Elena is widely regarded as one of the nation’s foremost legal minds. She’s an acclaimed legal scholar with a rich understanding of constitutional law. She is a former White House aide with a lifelong commitment to public service and a firm grasp of the nexus and boundaries between our three branches of government. She is a trailblazing leader -- the first woman to serve as Dean of Harvard Law School -- and one of the most successful and beloved deans in its history. And she is a superb Solicitor General, our nation’s chief lawyer representing the American people’s interests before the Supreme Court, the first woman in that position as well. And she has won accolades from observers across the ideological spectrum for her well-reasoned arguments and commanding presence. 

Adding, "Elena is respected and admired not just for her intellect and record of achievement, but also for her temperament -- her openness to a broad array of viewpoints; her habit, to borrow a phrase from Justice Stevens, “of understanding before disagreeing”; her fair-mindedness and skill as a consensus-builder."

Kagan, 50, would become the fifth woman to be a justice of the Supreme Court, and join two other women currently on the nine-member bench.

Video: President Obama Introduces Kagan

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