Washington (CNN) – Republicans wasted little time Monday criticizing President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, for trying to block military recruiters from Harvard Law School in protest of the Pentagon's policies preventing gays and lesbians from serving openly.
At the time, Kagan was the dean of the Harvard Law School.
"I think she made a big mistake," said Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee will be influential in determining GOP support for Kagan. "Was that disqualifying? I don't know, we'll see. But it's a significant issue."
As the law school dean in 2003, she described the military's policy as "a profound wrong – a moral injustice of the first order."
The Court later ruled unanimously against Kagan's position.
"I thought it was just out of touch with reality," Sessions said of Kagan, who currently serves as Obama's solicitor general. "If she opposed the policy, let her advocate against it and urge it to be changed, but not deny the people who are defending the country, who are at that moment dying abroad for our freedom, to deny then the right to come on campus."
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl said that Kagan was involved in the "advancing of a gay rights agenda over the Congress' law over don't ask, don't tell."
Kyl, an Arizona Republican, said the issue "raises the question of whether her own personal beliefs there would interfere with a decision that she might make relative to either an issue relating to gay rights or an issue relating to the military."
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy downplayed the significance of the controversy.
"Are we saying the students couldn't walk three or four blocks" to a recruitment office?" said Leahy, a Vermont Democrat.
Leahy was asked if GOP concerns had more to do with Kagan's respect for the military than the locations of recruitment centers.
"She's being nominated for the Supreme Court not the secretary of Defense," Leahy said. "I think she's going to be impartial in her rulings whether it's for the military or for anybody else."