Kagan headed for confirmation vote

Lisa Neff, Staff writer

Elena Kagan’s detractors and endorsers on the Senate Judiciary Committee reached an agreement following a four-day hearing on Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court: She’s bound for confirmation.

“Solicitor General Kagan will be confirmed,” U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., told reporters during a pause in testimony.

“I assume she will be,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said in a separate statement.

Kagan’s nomination will go to the Senate later this summer with a round of endorsements, including one from the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT political group.

“Kagan has demonstrated her understanding of the Constitution and the protections it provides all Americans” said HRC president Joe Solmonese. “She has articulated a commitment to the substantive protections of liberty guaranteed by the Constitution – an issue of the utmost importance to the LGBT community. We are confident that Elena Kagan is well qualified to become our nation’s next Supreme Court justice.”

Solmonese focused on Kagan’s testimony recognizing the constitutional right to privacy found in the 14th amendment, which was first articulated in the landmark case Griswold v. Connecticut, and that Kagan indicated Griswold is settled law.

That case is important to Solmonese and other LGBT politicos because it laid the foundation for recognition of the fundamental rights of LGBT individuals.

HRC also heralded Kagan’s record on LGBT issues while working in the Clinton White House and as dean of Harvard Law School, where she defended the school’s anti-discrimination policy and challenged the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

During her testimony before the Senate committee, Kagan called “a profound wrong – a moral injustice of the first order.”

A number of organizations and individuals – in addition to the senators on the committee – submitted statements supporting or opposing Kagan’s nomination that contained no surprises.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund endorsed the nomination, stating, “Our review of her record leads us to conclude that she has the professional credentials, respect for the institutional roles of all three branches of federal government, intellect and independence of mind, ability to build consensus, and commitment to justice required of one who would serve in this critical role.”

The National Gay and Lesbian Bar Association wrote, “We look forward to the day when the makeup of the federal judiciary mirrors the diversity of our great country, and we believe the nomination of Ms. Kagan would be a step in that direction. Although women comprise approximately 55 percent of the U.S. population, Ms. Kagan would only be the fourth female justice in the 200-plus year history of the court.”

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights stated, “In every step of her career, Elena Kagan has distinguished herself through her outstanding intellectual credentials, her independence of thought, and her strong respect for the rule of law, establishing herself beyond question as qualified and ready to serve on the Court.”

The confirmation hearing record also contains a statement from Army First Lt. David Tressler about Kagan’s position on military recruitment at Harvard Law School. “She always expressed her support for those who serve in the military and encouraged students to consider military service” stated Tressler, currently serving in Afghanistan. “It was clear she was trying to balance the institution’s values underlying its anti-discrimination policy with her genuine support for those who serve or were considering service in the military. Indeed, her sense of DADT’s injustice seemed to grow out of her belief in the importance and value of military service. I remember that she repeatedly said as much while dean.”

Kagan, if confirmed, would take retiring Justice John Paul Stevens place on the Court.