May 10th, 2010
08:19 PM ET
8 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. Mobius

    Two years' private law practice. Not exactly a 'woman of the people'. Corporate interests will just LOVE this one.

    May 10, 2010 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Whether or not Kagan likes the policy, she is not above the law.

    May 10, 2010 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  3. Don't ask

    Ms. Kagan is a strong advocate of DADT.
    Not that there's anything wrong with that.

    May 10, 2010 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  4. Mark Ferbet, KCMO

    As a citizen of the United States that opposes any and all discrimination, I agree with her stance on the subject. Until the Military comes into the 21st century, and no longer discriminates against our homosexual soldiers, I think that Universities have a right to keep recruiters off their campuses.

    The Supreme Court didn't agree... but then again, I don't agree with them. We need her to help to balance the Right leaning court.

    May 10, 2010 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  5. darko


    If it was about discrimination...she sure went the way of true liberal – if one person doesn't get it, then no one does.

    May 10, 2010 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  6. Klaxon McFlinderginder

    It's only a significant issue if you have no real issues to bring forth but desperately want something to smear the nominee with.

    May 10, 2010 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  7. Naturally

    Liberal is as liberal does, or is that stupid is as stupid does? oh well whats the difference.

    May 10, 2010 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  8. Why??

    Surprise, surprise. The Republicans don't like anyone who has the audacity to stand up for the rights of homosexuals. Apparently, they're "lesser" people than they are. You are not better than anybody else just because you're "conservative".

    May 10, 2010 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  9. vwrtb

    I see nothing to defend... Like always...republicans have and always will be on the defense...

    May 10, 2010 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  10. ib

    A person that has never served as a judge should not be allowed to serve as a judge on the supreme court period. This is another far left stupid move by this far left looney tune president we have.

    May 10, 2010 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  11. CitizenS

    If a democratic society and culture can not accept diversity of opinions than it is not a true democracy. Those diverse views test the question, Is anyone perfectly balanced? You answer for yourself and determine if you don't like spinach should you be barred from making the whole meal?

    May 10, 2010 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  12. FredinVicksburg

    Perhaps if the Republican controlled senate had not blocked judicial appointments in 1999 by refusing to hold confirmation hearings, Elena Kagan would have had judicial experience. The Party of No is still running at full throttle. Where they are going is anyone's guess. Some Republican senators will automatically vote no against anyone nominated by a Democrat, particularly if they are from a southern state with a Klan heritage, and the president is black. Back in the 19th century, the Supreme Court took a position that women could be denied the right to practice law. Some members of the Party of No are obviously still locked into the 19th century, both in their attitudes towards women and their attitudes towards minorities.

    May 10, 2010 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  13. Yahbut

    Elena Kagan was against military recruiting at Harvard and for that reason alone she should be disqualified.
    I believe that any school that accepts grants or money from the federal government should be required to allow military recruiting on campus.
    Harvard is well known for getting all kinds of federal grants.
    If she was against the military recruiting then she should have insisted that the school not take any federal money of any kind.
    I have real trouble believing that she has changed her mind on this matter.
    Therefore, I think she should not be appointed to the Supreme Court.

    May 10, 2010 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  14. Our nation is divided and on the brink

    What we know about her reveals she is far to the left; precisely why Obama picked her. What we don't know about her is much; precisely the same reason Obama made it to the White House.

    May 10, 2010 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  15. Aaron

    Real big surprise....Repubs against an Obama nominee. I hope there's never an Obama or Democrat initiative that really needs to be stood up to. The boys that perpetually cry wolf will likely be ignored when they need to be listened to...for once.

    May 10, 2010 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    That bothers me that she did not let the military on campus will make judge ment later pkm more facts

    May 10, 2010 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  17. normajean

    The repubs. who have just started their complaints against Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan stating a lack of judicial experience might want to do a little research on the existing justices as to their previous experience before their confirmation.Of course we have just begun the litany from the Repubs on why this woman should not be seated as it was also a trying time for her immediate precedent. I wonder how the average Republican voter can stand by and watch what these party leaders have done over the last year and a half to fight everything that could benefit their own constituants. They don't care about you, they just want to hang on to their high paying jobs, and they don't care whom they hurt.

    May 10, 2010 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  18. Dan

    "Don't ask, don't tell" is not "military policy." It is the law of the land, legislation passed by a Democratically controlled Congress, signed into law by a Democratic President, and affirmed unanimously by the Supreme Court. To term this "military policy" is propaganda–not journalism–

    May 10, 2010 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  19. GuyinVA

    Elena Kagan. Female Supreme Court nominee. Confidant of the President who has no judicial experience, and has never even argued a case in front of the Supreme Court. So... why was this so bad when it was Harriet Miers? Oh right. Ms. Miers is a heterosexual protestant republican.

    May 10, 2010 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  20. Hussein

    Gates makes a statement yesterday that the military must make yet more budget cuts, and the Liberals insist DADT will be abolished soon. Do the geniuses not realize how much it will cost to implement DADT; think of how many policies will have to be rewritten for thousands of units on hundreds of military installations across four branches . Then they have to figure out how to house and pay gay couples in a way that keeps things fair and won't be abused by heteralsexuals (young heteralsexuals getting married to same sex for benefits...
    ...and these costs just scratch the surface.

    May 10, 2010 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  21. Tom

    Kagan is an anti-military, leftist militant. On the Supreme Court, she will give Obama exactly what he wants, to wit: a lawless, leftist political activist and social engineer who is uncontrained by the United States Constitution and the rule of law. Snooki would do less damage to the United States of America, the United States Constitution and the rule of law than anyone Obama has nominated or will nominate to serve as a federal judge.

    May 10, 2010 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  22. Slider

    Who's the "aide"? Give us a name, CNN.

    Why am I not surprised that an Obama aide is accepting of an anti-military stance from a college admin?

    Where are the Harriet Miers comparisons? Did the media have a collective professional aneurysm causing them to forget, Miers?

    Did our stupid president think we would forget Miers?

    Why did Obama pick Kagan?

    Why is Axelrod even remortely considered 'intelligent'?

    If the current ruling class in Washington is to be considered even remotely intelligent, then there is hope for every ape in Africa?

    May 10, 2010 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  23. rudy

    If her sexual orientations caused her to support her position that the army recruters have no right to be on campus for recruting because of "don't ask and don't tell" policy, a position which was rejected 8-0 by the court then this is hadly a person that should have been considered let alone advanced as a nominee to the Supreme court. I wonder if we end up with a new law of affirmative action in favor of gays and dykes; Kagan would ask why not?

    May 10, 2010 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    Of course, it's a Republican against the President. It's what they do best. In fact, it's the only thing they do.

    May 10, 2010 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  25. Luke Brown

    Mr. President, please don't waste your time with these neanderthal Republicans. They were already opposing your nominee before you even had a nominee.

    Inhofe may be the most simple-minded, nakedly partisan human being ever to serve in the US Senate.

    Senator Sessions has never gotten over the fact that his own nomination to the Federal bench was derailed by senators who thought he wasn't bright enough. Sour grapes, is all this is.

    Republican offer nothing to this country today.

    May 10, 2010 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
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