Conservatives reveal arguments against Kagan

Concerned Women of America: Nominee's record is one "of a liberal political soldier -- not an impartial jurist"

Topics: Elena Kagan, Supreme Court,

Elena Kagan’s a politics-driven liberal, her detractors say. She’s a judicial activist. She treated military recruiters like second-class citizens during wartime.

That’s all according to Senate Republicans and conservative activists, who are sharpening their criticism of President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee and revealing strategies for confronting her at Judiciary Committee hearings that begin Monday.

As the White House and congressional Democrats tout Kagan as a fair-minded, glass ceiling-shattering legal mind who can bridge the ideological chasm of today’s Supreme Court, Republicans and their allies are working to discredit her and raise doubts about giving her a lifetime spot there.

It’s a tall order, since there’s no telling how Kagan — she has never been a judge — will behave once on the bench. The 50-year-old former Harvard Law School dean and Clinton administration aide served until recently as solicitor general arguing for the Obama administration before the Supreme Court.

The American Bar Association on Thursday have her its highest rating, calling Kagan “well qualified” for a position on the Supreme Court.

But Republicans plan to use Kagan’s resume against her during the hearings, charging that she is incapable of morphing from a politically shrewd policy adviser pushing a Democratic president’s agenda into an impartial justice.

“There will be a huge theme about whether the political activist part of her life and career, and her lack of legal experience, either as a judge or a lawyer — whether that will overcome the responsibility she has to be faithful to the law,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the Judiciary panel.

Sessions said Kagan’s stance on military recruitment during her tenure at Harvard, which he called “troubling,” would figure prominently in the debate over her fitness for the court.

Kagan briefly denied military recruiters access to the law school’s career services office because of the prohibition against openly gay soldiers, which violated Harvard’s policy against employers who discriminated in hiring. Instead, she said the recruiters could work only through campus military and veterans’ groups to make contact and conduct interviews with interested students.

The policy was an attempt to comply with a law denying federal funding to institutions that barred military recruiters without running afoul of Harvard’s nondiscrimination policy. But some military officials called it stonewalling, and she has been criticized bitterly for a decision Republicans say showed disdain for the armed forces during wartime.

Sessions hasn’t said yet who he plans to call to testify against Kagan at next week’s hearings, but some people close to the process say it’s likely he will include a military figure who felt aggrieved by her actions at Harvard.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, another senior Judiciary member, said the episode is evidence that Kagan puts politics and her own personal views before the law. Thousands of pages of memos and notes from Kagan’s years as a White House counsel and domestic policy aide to President Bill Clinton are fueling his argument. They’re littered with advice from Kagan that’s primarily driven by political considerations and policy concerns.

Hatch said it’s clear from her speeches and writings that Kagan espouses “an activist philosophy” of judging, citing her past praise for her former boss Justice Thurgood Marshall and former Israeli Supreme Court President Aharon Barak.

“Ms. Kagan has endorsed and has praised others who endorse an activist judicial philosophy,” Hatch said. “She appears to have accepted that judges may base their decisions on their own sense of fairness or justice, their own values of what is good and right, and their own vision of the way society ought to be.”

Hatch is one of seven Republicans who voted last year to confirm Kagan as solicitor general, but he and several others have made it clear that they have different criteria for determining their vote on making her a justice.

And conservative activists are making it clear they expect Republicans to question Kagan sharply, with some insisting that they move to block a vote to confirm her — something GOP senators have so far shown little inclination to do.

“We’ve seen enough to give us a long list of concerns,” said Curt Levey of the Committee for Justice, who gathered conservative activists outside the Supreme Court on Thursday to criticize Kagan’s positions on topics ranging from gun rights to free speech and affirmative action.

Mario Diaz of Concerned Women for America called Kagan’s record one “of a liberal political soldier — not an impartial jurist,” and said his group was urging senators to vote “no.”

Tommy Sears of the Center for Military Readiness said Kagan should be blocked from a confirmation vote based on her position on military recruitment at Harvard Law School.

Kagan’s judgment in that episode “certainly calls into question what she would do with regard to other military issues and judicial deference with regard to military issues,” Sears said.

Also on display at the hearings will be a partisan dispute over the role of a judge in society, with Republicans painting Kagan as a dangerous example of the liberal view that judges should apply real-world experience to their decisions. GOP senators argue instead that judges should base their rulings strictly on the letter of the Constitution, although Senate Democrats contend the conservative-dominated court has done just the opposite, twisting the law to reach its preferred conclusions on issues from workplace rights to campaign finance.

“This debate and what it says about President Obama will be part of the discussion, frankly,” Sessions said.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>