Who is Elena Kagan?
Political Advocacy Tracker is a roundup of what Christian activist organizations have been talking about over the last week.
Political activist groups reacted quickly to President Obama's pick to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. Solicitor General Elena Kagan has a long resume, but a scant record of writing on key issues. Progressives may not be pleased with Kagan, but conservatives were the most vocal activists.
The narrative conservatives are building around Kagan revolves around her judicial inexperience, her views of gay rights, and fear of her abortion positions.
Kagan has a long resume, including a clerkship with the Supreme Court, dean of Harvard Law School, and solicitor general of the United States. But absent is any time on the bench.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said Kagan is "woefully inexperienced." He compared her to Obama, saying that like him, "she, too, may have charmed her way into one of the most powerful positions in America with a clever charisma that hides her ultimate agenda: to reshape the court with a profoundly radical bent."
Kagan would be the first justice to be on the bench without prior judicial experience since William Rehnquist joined the Court. In 2005, President Bush nominated Harriet Miers, who also lacked any judicial experience.
American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) chief counsel Jay Sekulow said at the time that Miers' lack of judicial experience was "an asset, not a liability." For Kagan, however, the lack of experience is troubling.
"If confirmed, Kagan would become the first Justice to the Supreme Court in nearly 40 years who has no previous judicial experience," said Sekulow. "This fact underscores the importance of closely examining her judicial philosophy—will she abide by the Constitution, or will she take an activist view?"
In Focus on the Family Action's weekly webcast, Bruce Hausknecht agreed that Kagan's lack of judicial experience leaves many questions unanswered about how she would be as a judge.
"The basic question for any Supreme Court nominee ought to be: What is their judicial philosophy?" said Hausknecht. "We have no clue how Elena Kagan will perform once she's—if she is—confirmed to the SC."
Lacking a record of decisions, groups have focused on one of her most visible actions as Dean of Harvard Law School. Kagan joined with other schools in opposing a federal law requiring military recruiters on campuses that receive federal funding. The schools were eventually rebuffed by a unanimous Supreme Court. The schools objected to the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy.
For activists, this episode is evidence of her being against national security and in favor of gay rights.
"Ms. Kagan's incredibly hostile view of the military suggests she is out of touch with mainstream sensibilities and obedience to the rule of law," Perkins said.
The American Family Association focused on the recruiter issue when it urged people to write their Senators to oppose Kagan.
"Our national security is far too important to become a plaything in the hands of judicial activists like Ms. Kagan would certainly be," said the AFA. "To put someone with such hostility to natural marriage and duly enacted law on the Supreme Court is an unacceptable threat to this profoundly important institution."
Dan Nejfelt of Faith in Public Life said characterizations of Kagan as anti-military are "inflammatory and misleading." He pointed readers to an analysis by Media Matters of the recruiters' case and Kagan's view of veterans and the military.