May 10th, 2010
08:19 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama aide defends Kagan over DADT, military recruiting

Washington (CNN) – A top aide to President Obama is pushing back on early Republican criticism of Elena Kagan for her opposition to allowing military recruiters on the Harvard Law School campus because of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

While dean of the law school, Kagan tried to block military recruiters from the campus in protest of the Pentagon's policies preventing gays and lesbians from serving openly. Her position on this issue was criticized by the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee soon after Obama nominated her to the Supreme Court.

"I think she made a big mistake," Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, told CNN. "Was that disqualifying? I don't know, we'll see. But it's a significant issue."

But Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said that Kagan's actions were motivated by her concerns over discrimination.

"[Y]es, she expressed herself on the law," Axelrod said in an interview on The Situation Room. "But she's always been very hospitable to military recruitment and to young people on campus who wanted to serve their country. In fact, the irony of this discussion, Wolf, is her objection to the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law was she wanted everyone who wanted to serve their country - every young person - every young person who wants to serve the country to have that opportunity."

"Senator Sessions should and will have that opportunity to discuss it with her," Axelrod added in the interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

As Harvard Law School dean in 2003, Kagan described the military's policy as "a profound wrong – a moral injustice of the first order." The Supreme Court - the same court she now seeks to serve on - later ruled unanimously against Kagan's position.


–CNN Congressional Producer Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. MAD 'MAX' TEXAN

    This womalong with OBAMA need to take a flying leap out of America.

    May 10, 2010 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  2. Steve Fielder

    Only time will tell if the Republicans are foolish enough to oppose the nomination of Elena Kagan on the basis of her opposition to the U.S. Military's anti-gay regulations. If they choose to do so, they'll be in a position of publicly supporting a policy of blatant discrimination against an entire group of Americans who want to serve their country; the one they pay Federal income taxes to help finance and support, but are barred from fighting for!

    May 10, 2010 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  3. Demonhunter

    The point is not that "Republicans" disagreed with her stance against military recruiters at Harvard. The point is that the Supreme Court disagreed with her 8-0. That means even Stevens or Ginsburg (or both) agreed her position was wrong.

    That puts her outside the mainstream of the SCOTUS.

    May 10, 2010 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  4. Nathaniel

    If a private university has a policy of blocking any organization access to campus facilities if it engages in discriminatory practices, the the military in any form SHOULD be barred on those campuses because it openly acknowledges that it DOES DISCRIMINATE. Gays and Lesbians are prevented from being in the military if they are open about who they really are. Advancement of women in the military, while continuing to progress towards equality, if still far from a practice of non-discrimination.

    Now I would agree that any university that receives public funding from the federal government should not have the same rights... but Harvard does have the right and it was the right thing to do given the policy that existed in the university to block military recruitment on campaus grounds unless and until the military is in compliance with the policies of the university.

    May 11, 2010 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  5. MAGGIEB

    She threw the military off Harvard, she is not an American Patriot and should Never be on Any Court Period

    May 11, 2010 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  6. AB

    I am against any public facility including school that receives any kind of Government support barring military against recruiting on their grounds.
    For this reason alone this nominee has my NO vote.

    May 11, 2010 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  7. Colorado Liberal

    A few fleeting comments:

    1) If Republican Senators are against this nomination, Elena Kagan MUST surely be an excellent choice for the country.

    2) To my mind, several current Republican Justices, Scalia, Thomas, Alito are unworthy to darken the doors of the magnificent building they dwell in. I wish I were wrong...

    3) Like many, I am most concerned about the integrity of the current Court. I contemplate the forthcoming ruling concerning Monsanto: how can we possibly trust this apparently pro-corporate Court–consider above all, Justice Thomas a former Mosanto lawyer–to objectively determine the appropriate outcome?

    May 11, 2010 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  8. ehwilson429

    nobody addressing the gay issue?
    3 jewish member of the Supreme Court?
    no protestants?

    something wrong here?

    SIX Catholics?

    May 11, 2010 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  9. Sam Datum

    I swear the Republicans can find fault with anything. Obama nominated someone much more of a centrist than he might have, given the current Dem majority. No one is perfect, not even John Roberts. I see the President making a decent effort to be reasonable. Doesn't appear the Republicans want part of THAT.

    May 11, 2010 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
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