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All Da King's Men

Who Is Elena Kagan ?

By Da King Published: May 14, 2010

Elena Kagan is the Solicitor General of the United States, and is President Barack Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court. She is the prospective replacement for outgoing Judge John Paul Stevens, who is retiring. Here is a brief bio of Kagan from Wikipedia:

Kagan...born April 28,1960...was raised in New York City. After attending Princeton, Oxford, and Harvard Law School, she completed federal and Supreme Court clerkships. She began her career as a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, leaving to serve as an Associate White House Counsel and later policy adviser under President Clinton. After a failed nomination to the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, she became a professor at Harvard Law School and was later named its Dean. She was appointed Solicitor General by President Obama on January 26, 2009.

Kagan is Jewish. Her father was a lawyer, and her mother and two brothers are school teachers.

Kagan, despite an impressive resume, has never served as a judge before. If confirmed, she would definitely be starting at the top. If anyone doesn't know what Kagan's current job as the Solicitor General job entails, the Solicitor General is the person who represents the position of the United States Of America before the Supreme Court. Kagan is the legal advocate for the federal government.

As a judge, she is tabula rasa, a blank slate, because she has no record as a judge. Following are some of the issues that may be raised at her confirmation hearing.

In 1996 Kagan wrote an article in the University of Chicago Law Review entitled, “Private Speech, Public Purpose: The Role of Governmental Motive in First Amendment Doctrine.” Kagan argued that government has the right, even considering the First Amendment, to restrict free speech, when the government believes the speech is "harmful", as long as the restriction is done with good intentions.

In 1997, Kagan co-wrote a memo to President Clinton, urging him to pass a ban on late-term abortions.

After becoming the first female dean of Harvard University in 2003, Kagan supported banning military recruiters from campus, because she felt that the military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy discriminated against gays. I believe Kagan's position here was misguided. The Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy was a directive issued by President Clinton, not by the military. Kagan misplaced the blame for that policy and took her anger out on the wrong party. The Supreme Court eventually ruled that Kagan could not ban military recruiters from a campus that received federal funding, as did Harvard.

From 2005 through 2008, Kagan was a member of the Research Advisory Council of the Goldman Sachs Global Markets Institute and received a $10,000 stipend for her service in 2008 (Sigh. Are there ANY top government officials who aren't connected to Goldman Sachs in some way ?)

Prior to becoming the Solicitor General in 2009, Kagan had very limited courtroom experience. She had never argued a case at trial, and had not argued before the Supreme Court. Her experience had been largely academic.

At her confirmation hearings for Solicitor General, Kagan argued that battlefield law, including indefinite detention without a trial, could apply outside of traditional battlefields. The New York Times paraphrased Kagan as saying "that someone suspected of helping finance Al Qaeda should be subject to battlefield law — indefinite detention without a trial — even if he were captured in a place like the Philippines rather than a physical battle zone."

Here is something that is sure to be made an issue during Kagan's confirmation. In college in 1981, Kagan's senior thesis was called To The Final Conflict: Socialism In New York City, 1900-1933. It was dedicated to her parents. Here is an excerpt from the conclusions of Kagan's thesis:

In our own times, a coherent socialist movement is nowhere to be found in the United States. Americans are more likely to speak of a golden past than of a golden future, of capitalism's glories than of socialism's greatness. Conformity overrides dissent; the desire to conserve has overwhelmed the urge to alter. Such a state of affairs cries out for explanation. Why, in a society by no means perfect, how has a radical party never attained the status of a major political force?

Through its own internal feuding, then, the SP exhausted itself forever and further reduced labor radicalism in New York to the position of marginality and insignificance from which it has never recovered. The story is a sad but also a chastening one for those who, more than half a century after socialism's decline, still wish to change America. Radica1s have often succumbed to the devastating bane of sectarianism; it is easier, after all, to fight one's fellows than it is to battle an entrenched and powerful foe. Yet if 'the history of Local New York shows anything, it is that American radicals cannot afford to become their own worst enemies. In unity lies their only hope.

To put this in context, this is an academic work written by Kagan nineteen years ago. If I wrote a college thesis about Hitler, it wouldn't mean I was a Nazi, it would mean I was trying to graduate. However, I also wouldn't come across as sympathetic to the Nazi cause, and Kagan's conclusions do seem to be sympathetic to radical socialist causes in America. She comes right out and says it's sad that a major socialist movement hasn't caught on here, and she said it in 1981, at the height of the Cold War.

In closing, I should say a few words about the internet blog rumor that Kagan is a lesbian. The rumor seems to stem from the fact that she isn't married, and plays softball (not kidding). I believe the rumor was started by pseudo-conservative gay blogger Andrew Sullivan, but I'm not certain he came up with it first. The White House has deemed the rumors to be "false charges." First of all, who cares if she is gay or not ? That has nothing to do with her ability to rule on constitutional issues on the Supreme Court. I also find the White House's condemnation of the rumor as "false charges" to be almost as inane as the unfounded rumor itself. Speculating whether someone is gay is not a "charge." The White House response almost sounds as if they think it's a crime to be gay. Maybe they just used a poor choice of words. At least the White House didn't say, 'Kagan's not gay, she's normal.'



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