Obama's Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan and Gay Rights
Gay Rights Central to Elena Kagan Nominee Fight
Obama's Supreme Court Justice nominee Elena Kagan's fight will have gay rights at its front and center, political pundits on both sides are saying.
. . . as much as race or abortion have dominated past Supreme Court confirmation hearings, gay rights are likely to play a more central role in the upcoming fight over Elena Kagan than they have for any previous nominee.
Conservatives from the outset have portrayed Kagan as a guaranteed liberal vote for issues like gay marriage. Yet the response to Kagan from the left has been split between those who are skeptical of Kagan’s support for gay rights issues and those who are glad to have a nominee they believe will be on their side on issues in the future.
It is also said that Kagan’s biggest vulnerability is her position against “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the ban on gays openly serving in the military. As dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan banned military recruiters from the school’s campus.
Both Kagan's detractors and proponents are focusing on the other indications about her stances on key issues. During her solicitor general confirmation hearing she asserted that “there is no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage.”
During the same hearing Kagan was asked about the Defense of Marriage Act, under which states don’t have to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. She said she would defend the act, “if there is any reasonable basis to do so.”
The focus on gay rights issues is natural in these times. But pundits say it is also because there really is not much of a record of where Kagan stands on key issues.
Some point out that while Kagan claims there is no federal constitutional right to same sex marriage, nevertheless, she could easily create one while being on the court.
In an email sent in 2003 to Harvard Law students, Kagan called the US Military “don’t ask, don’t tell,” policy “a profound wrong — a moral injustice of the first order.”
Her opposition to the ban has become mainstream for the most part, yet her banning the Pentagon recruiters from the Harvard Law Career Offices still makes many Republicans uneasy.
At least two same-sex marriage cases pending in lower courts are seen as possibly making their way to the Supreme Court, most notably the California case challenging Proposition 8.
Certainly, we’re going to see something at some point in the future while she would be on the court. But I think they’re going to have a hard time predicting how she would rule on a gay marriage case,” Davis said.