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.