Kagan: A Sleeper Socialist or Right Winger?

Today President Obama nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan to replace retiring justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court, positioning the court to have three female justices for the first time.

At 50, Kagan, who has received bipartisan praise for her tenure as dean of Harvard Law School, would be the youngest member of the court. Because Republicans in the US Senate refused to consider her appointment to the US Appeals Court during the Clinton years, she is the first High Court appointee since 1972 to not have judicial experience.

The last were William H. Rehnquist and Lewis Powell, both appointed by Richard Nixon in 1972, although she does have extensive experience in and around the Supreme Court, having clerked for her mentor and hero Thurgood Marshall, and currently being the highest Obama administration official who routinely presents the administration's positions to the Court.

Seven Senate Republicans voted to confirm Kagan as solicitor general, although now that the entire Republican Party is in 2010 election mode and routinely trying to obstruct everything Obama does no matter how innocuous, expect viscious attacks on her from both the far right commentators and Republican Senators looking for hard-right voters in the upcoming elections.

Kagan's record has some to both horrify and please those on the left, but because she hasn't spent time on the bench issuing opinions so it's hard to know where her heart really is.

She has a long record of doing her job, whether it's running Harvard or defending her President's positions that seem to extend many Bush policies.

But already her undergraduate thesis on Socialism in New York - which seems in parts to praise socialism - is being hit hard by Reich activists like Glenn Beck to allege that she's a sleeper socialist of some sort.

If so, then she has my vote!


msukas's picture
msukas 14 years 6 weeks ago

She could be on the Court for 40 years. I hope the President knows what he is doing.

Yellowbird7's picture
Yellowbird7 14 years 6 weeks ago

Obama's Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan Will Move the Court to the Right

President Barack Obama has chosen Elena Kagan to fill the vacancy left by Justice John Paul Stevens' retirement. Sadly, Kagan cannot fill Justice Stevens' mighty shoes. READ MORE

Marjorie Cohn / AlterNet


isnamthere's picture
isnamthere 14 years 6 weeks ago

I'm not sure what to think about Kagan. So far in this administration, every time I have gotten my hopes up that Obama will actually stand up for those of us on the left they have been dashed upon the rocks. I don't see why we should expect anything different out of this Scotus nomination than what we've gotten with any of his other nominations so far (think Geitner, think Gates, etc.)

The main issue of this comment, however, has to do with the VERY OFFENSIVE call which Thom just took from a woman representing the LGBT community. She made the comment that anyone (of a certain age, I assume) who does not have a partner or is married sends off an alarm in the LGBT community that this person must be gay. How is this any less biased than those who discriminate against others' for race, nationality or sexual orientation? I am a 48 year old, single, straight, white male. And I am sure that many of you will titter at this, but I am damn tired of being labelled as gay by the public at large (and now even by the supposedly open-minded LGBT community). I have never been married for several reasons of my own, none of which include any homosexual tendencies on my part. I am not in the closet about my sexuality, I am heterosexual. I just happen to like my independence and enjoy going through life without the burden of a partner.

The caller made the point that she may not be able to trust a candidate who would not come out and be open about their sexuality and further indicted the Obama administration for not backing such a candidate if they were to come out. If this is the view of the LGBT community as a whole, then maybe they had better examine their own assumptions about others' orientations before they throw any stones at others. I don't know if Kagan is a lesbian, frankly, wtf does it matter? But if those on the left are going to jump to conclusions about others' just as those whackos on the right do, then then what makes the left any better than the right? We've got MAJOR psychological problems in this society.

flyguy8650's picture
flyguy8650 14 years 6 weeks ago

Are progressives socialists? I thought there was a difference? I thought Thom was a progressive? I am confused????

flyguy8650's picture
flyguy8650 14 years 6 weeks ago

Nice comment. Well done...there is little difference with far left and far right...that is why there is little movement in regaining our country to at least a well thought out direction and purpose....you sound pragmatic and clear...I wish those in DC were as focused. We are heading towards some real challenges unless they move to the center...where most of us are really...Fiscal Conservative/Social Moderate Libertarian/Independant


SCCIAM's picture
SCCIAM 14 years 6 weeks ago

"It should be noted that as Solicitor General, Elena Kagan, President Obama's nominee for the US Supreme Court, refused to review the Justice Department's cases against Diaz, Minor, Siegelman, and others. Kagan is a disgrace to the legal profession and is clearly unfit to serve on the nation's highest court."

Obama is not the person I thought I was voting for!

mcrush@spiretech.com's picture
mcrush@spiretech.com 14 years 6 weeks ago

Elena Kagan's senior thesis sounds interesting. Is it available for the public to read? I've had some family connections to early 20th centurey socialists in New York.

sbq's picture
sbq 14 years 6 weeks ago

Kagan's confirmation would most likely move the Court to the Right. She has an affinity for the Executive Branch which has been accumulating more power and Kagan would only serve to strengthen the Executive more. I would recommend folks to read what Glenn Greenwald (of Salon) and Cenk Uygur has to say about this. The Senate's Left should vote against her confirmation based on her lack of judicial experience and her promotion of Executive powers. Maybe after her confirmation is voted down, Obama will appoint a Progressive instead.



DRichards's picture
DRichards 14 years 6 weeks ago

Kagan helped shield Saudis from 9/11 lawsuits

Elena Kagan, President Barack Obama's latest nominee to the Supreme Court, helped protect the Saudi royal family from lawsuits that sought to hold al Qaeda financiers responsible in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.


Marion Delgado's picture
Marion Delgado 14 years 6 weeks ago

Right-winger. Across the board. And this shuts the door on the possibility of ever having another election that's not a sham. Like Clinton, Obama is loyal to the rich only. He's going to make it impossible for the next Obama to win, basically. Clinton destroyed unions, tossed unemployed single parents out on the street, and gave the media to as many far right corporations as he could manage, but Obama's on track to outdo him.


Note that she was forced to argue against her conviction, and took a dive on Citizen's United. She should be in the stocks in every city in America being pelted with rotten vegetables and eggs, not on the court.

By the way, Glenn Greenwald is no liberal, even in the classic sense. He's more an old-fashioned term - "liar." He said piously that Salon.com's readers were simply not "First Amendment absolutists" like him, and that free speech for corporate persons expressed by unlimited electoral corruption trumped any supposed right to actually have elections be free and fair. However, his First Amendment absolutism disappears when you ask him about electioneering within 100 feet of a polling place. Only limits on corporate personhood or money as speech raise his highly selective First Amendment reflexes. Like Jonathan Turley, Greenwald has been the beneficiary of a lot of desperation. To make sense of them, realize that while they're okay on civil liberties, they have as an article of fundamentalist faith that you can always go get another job, so anything a rich person or family or corporation wants to put in your contract - no matter how infringing on your liberties - is always by definition legal, and that's "freedom" and "liberty." After a very short time, any unregulated capitalism will become highly unequal, so this is really just a restatement of support for feudalism.

The Citizens United case is a good litmus test. Where you come down on it basically is a better indicator of your real position in Jefferson's two parties/factions* than almost anything else that's come along. *"Democrats and Aristocrats."

rladlof's picture
rladlof 14 years 6 weeks ago

President is a wishy-washy, just right of center, pro-corporatist . . .

Apple. Tree. Not far from.

stonesphear's picture
stonesphear 14 years 6 weeks ago

If she fails to be appointed that will stir up the lady's and get them activated for the next round.That way both Rush Limbaugh and the administration get something they want.

Rush just wants to force the administration to lose.

Obama want's to fire up the base.

It may be this pick is just cat and mouse.

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