There is a lot of legitimate concern amongst both Democrats and Republicans about what type of justice Solicitor General Elena Kagan might be on the U.S. Supreme Court, a week after she was named by President Obama to be his choice to succeed John Paul Stevens on the high court.
On ABC's This Week on Sunday, host Jake Tapper, after asking some preliminary questions, then hit the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Alabama's Jeff Sessions, on whether he had any concerns about Kagan being gay (this week friends of Kagan have said she is not).,
Except Tapper did not want to put the words "Kagan" and "gay" in the same sentence, lest he be accused of tarring the 50-year-old native New Yorker with what is still considered an epithet in some quarters.
TAPPER: In the last week, we were told by the White House that after a blog post went up at CBSnews.com that incorrectly said that Elena Kagan was not straight -- and again, that is not true -- but Elena Kagan went to the White House, said this is not true, I am straight. How far is too far when looking into a nominee's personal life?
SESSIONS: I think you've got to be careful about that. I don't believe that is a fundamental judgment call on whether a person can be a good judge or not. We need to know how able they are to ascertain the real legal issues in a case and deciding it fairly and justly. Will they restrain their personal political views and follow the law faithfully and serve under the Constitution? That's the fundamental test in personal integrity. So those are questions that go to the heart of whether a person will be an able judge or not.
The main issue that has conservatives (and some liberals - or at least one, journalist Peter Beinart) hot and bothered about her record was her handling of military recruitment as dean at Harvard Law School. That's when she followed the school's antidiscrimination policy over a Congressional act denying federal funds to universities barring military recruiters.
Jeff Sessions said he has "great concerns" about this.
SESSIONS: She -- she reversed the policy. When she became dean, they were allowing the military to come back on campus and had been for a couple of years.
TAPPER: But they were always on campus, right? They just weren't using the Office of Career Services.
SESSIONS: Well, look, yeah, this is no little bitty matter, Jake. She would not let them come to the area that does the recruiting on the campus. They had to meet with some student veterans. And this is not acceptable. It was a big error. It was a national debate. Finally, we passed the Solomon amendment. They really didn't comply with it. Eventually, she joined a brief to try to overturn the Solomon amendment, which was eventually rejected 8-0 by the United States Supreme Court, and she was not in compliance with the law at various points in her tenure, and it was because of a deep personal belief she had that this policy, which was Congress and President Clinton's policy--
TAPPER: Don't ask, don't tell, right.
A man who has no power when it comes to voting on Kagan, but is empowered by the media, who gives him the platform to make sometimes over the top comments (remember his charge last year at this time that Sonia Sotomayor was racist?), former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, threw another verbal bomb on Fox News Sunday, saying her stance on the issue should disqualify her.
"I think the president should withdraw it," he said. "You don't need a lot of hearings. The very fact that she led the effort which was repudiated unanimously by the Supreme Court to block the American military from Harvard Law school -- we're in two wars, and I see no reason why you would appoint an anti-military Supreme Court justice or why the Senate would confirm an anti-military Supreme Court justice."
Newt then threw in this bomb to boot:
"He is the president and that is his value system. I think the fact is if you look at the brief you filed, if you look at what she wrote at the time, it's a very myopic view. On the one hand, Harvard accepts money from Saudis. Saudi Arabia, by the way, executes homosexuals, Saudi Arabia represses women, Saudi Arabia doesn't allow Christians or Jews to practice their religion, but Saudi money is fine."