May 10th, 2010
05:05 PM ET
5 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. Ben in Texas

    Sounds like Elena Kagan was ahead of her time for insisting that the military treat all Americans fairly. Or even more likely, Jeff Sessions is a dinosaur.

    Since all Repugnants will, without a doubt, vote against Ms. Kagan, I'd love to see her respond vigorously to their questioning. The military has no God-given right to recruit on campus, and the Repugnants should be made to defend the notion that gay people should have less rights than straight people.

    May 10, 2010 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  2. Steve from California

    There is no way Americans will be able to stop homosexuals from serving in the military. It's too late. The services will have to handle this internally.

    May 10, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  3. Marc

    WOW!!! That was fast!
    One point in which they will base their 'NO, NO, NO AND NO!!!!!!' arguments for the filibuster and attempt to block her nomination.
    ATTEMPT.

    May 10, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  4. Marty, FL

    Discrimination that forces our service members to lie is indeed a moral injustice. It is past time to end the misguided policy of DADT and allow soldiers to continue serving our country with honor.

    May 10, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  5. JOhn, Sacramento

    I notice that the far right sounding board targets Barney Fife as the reason that the financial system failed and needed bailing out by the Bush administration. Of course Barney is gay. Targeting gays, women, blacks, Mexicans, and Islamists is a key GOP strategy. This of course is subject to change if something personal changes, like Cheney discovering that his daughter is gay, and then doing a 180. By refusing to ever criticize White males, unless there is absolutely no one else, aforementioned, that would be a possible substitute, the GOP perpetuates the notion that only white men should run for President (remember the presidential debate where 11 of 11 candidates were white males) or equally important, we must now stop this ridiculous momentum of allowing women on the supreme court.

    May 10, 2010 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  6. Sandra, ATL

    So what else is new? They have their opposition position as a default. It doesn't matter what it is. Is anyone else tired of this?

    May 10, 2010 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  7. Health care for everyone

    And what is the GOP'S stance on gays in the military?

    They criticize people as a diversion away from the jacked up bigoted things they believe in.

    May 10, 2010 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  8. mark

    It doesn't matter who Obama chooses for the job, the Republicans won't accept anyone a Democrat picks. Republicans vote out of spite, not for the better of the United States. The Democrats need to push her through without any of their votes. Screw them.

    May 10, 2010 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  9. bofwisconsin

    And this is why I'll never vote Republican until they aren't infested by these bigots. I could never in good conscience vote for a party that puts up with such a bigoted far right, even if "not all Republicans are like this."

    May 10, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  10. Naqib

    She will get in...
    As left as they come... radical liberal... never served as a judge...
    She's perfect

    May 10, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  11. Ed

    in an optimistic moment, it is quite fun to watch the Republicans' world collapse around them - a gay rights ally nominated for the Surpreme Court, Wow! think how that must rock their close-minded, bigoted, undeducated, neanderthal world.

    On a pessimistic note, these clowns still exist and their strategy of NO has been effective and their rhetoric plays well with Palin's "real America."

    May 10, 2010 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  12. Nom Deplume, Esq.

    How about Kagan's thesis in college, where she referred to the demise of the american socialist movement as "sad"?

    May 10, 2010 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    BTW...hook, line and sinker, GOPers. If you think what you're saying sounds at all reasonable to the thinking public, you're wrong. The only people you're going to elicit head-nodding from are those who are preprogrammed by religion or self-loathing denial to hate gays or who are such drooling morons that they actually believe banning recruitment on a PRIVATE college campus really has anything to do with national security. Play to the base while the rest of us get turned off even more...brilliant...

    May 10, 2010 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  14. Mike

    The issue isn't her position, it's how she expressed it by denying recruiters access in time of war. That's giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Some would call that treason.

    May 10, 2010 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  15. Ed from Columbus

    If Obama said water was wet, the Repuglicans would say it wasn't/

    Republicans are now irreverent.
    They now do not have a vocabulary over two letters...NO

    May 10, 2010 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  16. Ed from Columbus

    I'm sorry , Irrelevant,.

    May 10, 2010 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    She will get unfairly mischaracterized...
    As right-wing partisan as they come... radical ideologues... never served selflessly...they're useless

    May 10, 2010 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  18. mama panda

    If this is what Sessions calls a significant issue, I think he wouldn't recognize a significant issue if it hit him on the nose. And if this is what Kyl calls the advancing of a gay rights agenda, I think he's nuts.

    May 10, 2010 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    If she met every single possible requirement, she would be blackballed by the Republicans because she is nominated by a Democrat. The reverse would be also be true. The fact is that she meets the needs of the job. That should be the end of the story – vet her and make sure there are no criminal whisperings in her background, she obviously has the training for the position. The politics in the US are stunning. Every thing is Democrat or Republican – facts have no bearing on outcome.

    May 10, 2010 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  20. Ed from Columbus

    Obama has a better chance of the Taliban agreeing with him on something before the Republicans would.

    May 10, 2010 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  21. Peter E

    Let's see... a dean of Harvard Law School (MOST known for producing soooooo many new soldiers... yeah right) resisting military recruitment on campus=supreme weakening of national security.
    The don't-ask don't-tell policy that fires hundreds of soldiers including needed translators for counter-terrorism=ok?

    May 10, 2010 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  22. Len (Colorado)

    And why should it be an issue? We are the only civilized country that does not allow a "all" its citizens to serve. Folks, Isreal allows gays to serve in the military. The GOP, they will do everything to disrupt this country from moving forward.

    May 10, 2010 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  23. Limbaugh is a Liberal

    So, if a democrat president's nominee doesn't have judicial experience it makes the nominee disqualified, but if a republican does the same thing (Nixon's nomination of William Rehnquist) that guy becomes a judicial deity? Dispense with the hypocrisy! Just admit: you have no ideas, plans, just parroting Rush Limbaugh's talking points while saying 'No, no, NO!'

    May 10, 2010 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  24. John Lubeck

    One of the most scurrilous, ignorant and contemptible positions the GOP holds is their continuing bigotry against gays in the military. They use the same ludicrous rationale against gays as they used against blacks – that they would "degrade unit cohesion". In their dimly lit view, dying for your country is ok as long as you are not homosexual.

    May 10, 2010 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  25. Moby

    Does that suprise you? An Obama appointee who has disdain for the Amerian military. He wants her to be our next Justice. Pathetic. If you have to take your petty grievances out on our military you sure don't deserve to be a Justice. She should go back to Academia where the rest of the radicals reside.

    May 10, 2010 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
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