As I write this, President Barack Obama is announcing his nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens on the U.S. Supreme Court. Kagan, 50, would become the youngest member and the third woman on the current court. She has no prior judicial experience.
Kagan is expected to come under fire from conservatives over her decision as dean of Harvard Law School to bar military recruiters from campus on grounds that “don’t ask don’t tell” violated the school’s non-discdrimination policy. Kagan and 40 other Harvard professors signed a brief to the Supreme Court supporting an unsuccessful challenge to the Solomon Amendment, a federal law that denies funding to universities that don’t allow access to military recruiters. After ultimately allowing the recruiters back on campus, Kagan wrote an e-mail to the Harvard Law School community in which she called DADT “a profound wrong — a moral injustice of the first order.”
Kagan has also been the subject of a whisper campaign alleging that she is gay. In April CBS published a blog post by a former Bush administration aide saying that Kagan’s nominiation would help Obama “please” much of his base, since she would be the “first openly gay justice.” The White House swiftly quashed the rumor, accusing CBS of “lies,” and the blog post was taken down.
The Human Rights Campaign issued a statement this morning praising Obama’s nomination of Kagan. HRC noted that the court could rule on several issues critical to the LGBT community in the next few years, including marriage equality, DADT, the Defense of Marriage Act, and the new federal hate crimes law.
“We applaud President Obama for choosing Elena Kagan to become our nation’s next U.S. Supreme Court Justice,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “The U.S. Supreme Court decides cases that intimately affect the lives of all Americans. We are confident that Elena Kagan has a demonstrated understanding and commitment to protecting the liberty and equality of all Americans, including LGBT Americans.”