May 10th, 2010
05:05 PM ET
4 years ago

GOP senators zero in on Kagan's stance on gays in the military

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."


Filed under: Elena Kagan • Jeff Sessions • Supreme Court
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Steve in Carolina

    Would all the comments about Ms. Kagan not serving on the bench makes her unqulified for the court, also apply to the previous Chief Justice from AZ. and previous Justice White also? That is if they were a current nominee? Those two persons Chief Justice Renquist and Justice Byron"Wizzer" White both appointed by Republican President.

    May 10, 2010 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  2. German,Irish,American

    Will the Democrats fillibuster Kagan like they did Miguel Estrada because she has no judicial experience? Or was that another Democrat lie and race was the real factor that Democrats fillibustered, and forced a withdrawl, for the first time ever of a circuit court nominee, who had the bi-partisan approval of 56 Senators?

    May 10, 2010 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  3. JonDie

    "I think she made a big mistake," said Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions...

    I agree with Kagan, the military's policy of kicking out gays is not just bigoted, it's stupid. But stupid and bigoted are words that accurately describes Sessions and most other Republicans.

    May 10, 2010 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  4. Hendrik

    Republicans smell like skunks. But then again, they are skunks. All of them, no exceptions.

    May 10, 2010 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  5. Independant Thinker

    Republicans wasting little time before criticizing.....
    What a shocker!
    Voters are going to waste little time on these "do-nothings" as well!
    Ask Mr Bennet.

    May 10, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  6. MAC

    Elena Kegan as well as most of those who are pushing for gay openness in the military do not know or forget that this lifestyle is against the UCMJ so any person who is sexually active in the gay community while in the armed forces is violating the UCMJ and can be arrested, jailed, and dishonorably discharged.

    May 10, 2010 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  7. Patsy, Texas

    Here we go again. I heard a British commentator say this week-end
    the "electorate is looking for grown up politicions who will work
    together". Sounds like most Americans, but have you noticed, that
    any Republican who tries gets booted.
    And, of course, there are the dimwits like NO INCUMBANTS 2010
    commenting on someone's looks. People like this just show how
    inadequate they are, and are probably embarrased they cannot hold
    a candle to anyone with a brain. The proof is in their stupid remarks.
    Thank you

    May 10, 2010 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    It's funny to watch and hear the GOP misinformation/fear machine go into full swing. Kagan makes a stand against DADT and suddenly she's a "radical Liberal."

    You guys really have dung for brains ... so easily lead by your fears and prejudices .. So willing to prejudge people based on little information ...

    You'd believe the sun rose in the West if the GOP, Limbaugh, Hannity, etc., told you so!

    May 10, 2010 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  9. Bethany

    I would have preferred Obama pick Diane Wood, someone with clear experience as a judge as well as a strong portfolio of convincing majority and dissenting legal writings. However, I hope that our congressional representatives will not assume that her behavior as a dean will automatically roll over to her behavior as a judge. Deans may afford to take stances and advance causes, judges obviously may not. Apples and oranges, and her limited judicial experience renders her role and actions as a judge an unknown. I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

    May 10, 2010 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  10. Thomas

    Ms. Kagan was correct on the issue of DADT. Discrimination is discrimination and is wrong. I always believed President Clinton created the executive order for it to be specifically declared unconstitutional, thereby allowing homosexuals to serve in the military. That it didn't take place right away doesn't mean that was the long-term plan. This is not an issue that would or should disqualify someone for the Supreme Court.

    May 10, 2010 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  11. Marge

    He he he he ....if isn't wasn't this the crumb bum republicans would find something else. No matter who Obama appointed if it wasn't a far right radical hate filled republican they wouldn't approve them. Get over it thugs WE WON. YOU LOST. OBAMA HAS THE RIGHT TO APPOINT WHO HE WANTS AND WE HAVE THE VOTES TO GO FORWARD.

    May 10, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  12. Thomas

    Ms. Kagan was correct on the issue of DADT. Discrimination is discrimination and is wrong. I always believed President Clinton created the executive order for it to be specifically declared unconstitutional, thereby allowing homosexuals to serve in the military. That it didn't take place right away doesn't mean that wasn't the long-term plan. This is not an issue that would or should disqualify someone for the Supreme Court.

    May 10, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  13. Matt in CA

    Oh good, because for a moment I thought they were going to evaluate her based on her merits for the position she's being nominated for. I'm glad they've found a wedge issue to rile up their uninformed, egotistical 'base'.

    May 10, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  14. delton

    be nice, if you live a long life many things double, not always positive. don't worry, a little liposuction can fix her and she will be good as new! lol. we really should look at her brain....somewhat above her chin.

    May 10, 2010 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  15. Livin' the good life

    Critizing!??? Good ol' Mitch just barely got the ink dried on his" verbal diarrhea" [complements of SNL], and these goons are just starting...

    "I think she made a big mistake",

    "it's a significant issue",

    "I thought it was just out of touch with reality"

    "advancing of a gay rights agenda" .....................................OUCH!

    I'm shaking in my SHOES! I guess it's time to drudge up the ol' "we gotta find a group of people WE think THEY should be scared of!"
    MY GOD! The TERROR! How could anyone EVEN think of nominating this person!??? Why?, It's just the ol' bashing of the American people for furthering their agenda. SAD. People are to be treated equal and I guess the Relics' will always place themselves above others. Which is WHY we DO NOT need any more of THEM giving their opinions!) However, the PEOPLE of the United States are TIRED of the lack of performance in DC and are about to get even madder come this election period. "OL' Please, say it isn't true!??? SORRY, you made your bed(s). File under Utah...Beau Colby

    May 10, 2010 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  16. John

    This isn't the fun part. The "War on Empathy" will get started any minute. That will be the fun part. I can't wait to hear the new and creative ways Republicans will vilify empathy and explain why it is a grievous character flaw.

    May 10, 2010 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  17. ThinkAgain

    Regarding Elena Kagan never having served as a judge, per an October 2005 story published in the Christian Science Monitor, "41 of the 109 justices had no prior judicial experience," including Chief Justices John Marshall and Earl Warren, as well as William Rehnquist, Felix Frankfurter, and Louis Brandeis.

    That's 38% of the Justices who were not judges prior to being appointed to the Supreme Court.

    I don't see a problem with Kagan's nomination.

    May 10, 2010 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  18. ThinkAgain

    Quick FYI: There is precedence for President Obama nominating Elena Kagan, even though she does not have prior experience as a judge:

    George Washington was the first president to do it. (If you don't believe me, do a quick Internet search on "supreme court justice no judge experience" and see for yourself).

    In total, 41 past Supreme Court Justices have served on the Court without having had prior experience as a judge.

    May 10, 2010 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  19. david from oregon

    Can you imagine being a fly on the wall as Clarence argues with Elana over civil rights?

    May 10, 2010 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  20. ib

    This is another reason why this independent is thinking about never voting for another democrat in my life. We need a third party; the two now have forgot about the common working man. What a disaster for a judge this woman would be from her past views.

    May 10, 2010 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  21. Freedom

    Don't know what's optimistic about increased taxes, paying for a healthcare plan for four years before the supposed "reforms" are available, budget cuts to our national defense while we are at war, etc. Prudent spending is justified; but wasting money on stimulus plans that dollars haven't reached yet or the fact that we don't have the money in the first place doesn't seem optimistic to me. Nor does the fact that the government would fund 16,000 more IRS employees to hound the hardworking citizens instead of hiring 16,000 more Border Patrolmen to safeguard our borders
    The only thing optimistic is this November when the voters perform the "rectal cranial" extraction on these liberals who are destroying this country by preaching diversity over unity, allowing all religions except Christianity, and requiring Americans to speak foreign languages more proficiently than English.
    November=optimism.

    May 10, 2010 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  22. Rajinder Goyal

    The Republicans are the modern version of doomdayers. They have a nasty habit of only thinking negative. So it should come as no surprise to anybody to see these people always acting as the prophets of doom and gloom. As soon as President Obama says or announces anything, the negative brains go to work immediately. Imagine someone who is always thinking negative. What can one conclude about how their brains work? I wonder...God bless our country but save us from these doomsdayers.

    May 10, 2010 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  23. usualone

    Why should military recruiters be allowed on any college campuses? Let the students get an education so that then they can decide if they want to join the military or not. Too many folk are allowed on campuses to distract the students from their studies. Of course the Republicans will not want President Obama's nominees. The Court now favors the Republican stances; thus, they have a vested interest in fighting all of the President's nominees.

    May 10, 2010 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  24. Shellyan

    Awesome......let's watch as the true colors of the GOP are presented again as anti gay, anti women's rights, anti minorities, anti middle class/working class. They are already whining about Kagan's lack of judicial experience.......one name for them -remember Judge Rehnquist .

    May 10, 2010 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  25. Ethan

    The Republican Party is pathetic. We know that. But the real kicker is that they JUST DON'T CARE.

    May 10, 2010 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
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