Ladies Changing the World: Elena Kagan nominated for Supreme Court

by Jules Abraham

Calling all women, liberals, and supporters of Gay Rights— Shhhh! Obama is sneaking you into the club. Solicitor General, Elena Kagan, has been selected to fill the seat of Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court. She would be only the fourth woman since Sandra Day O’Connor in 1981 to serve on the High Court, and breaking new ground in the US as one of three Justices that are women serving concurrently. We gals have never before enjoyed such a large presence of female perspective.  The move is viewed as Obama vying for fair play from the right side of the court. ‘Just keepin’ ‘em honest’, so to speak.  With issues of pay discrimination, and the rights of women to their own bodies (among other issues) flying around the courts and the Senate like a dirty school-yard turf war, I agree its time to bring in ‘the kid that everyone likes’. General Kagan, a woman of carefully chosen battles, is the perfect choice. Born in New York City, General Kagan is touted as an ‘Upper West Side Liberal’, but as first and foremost a brilliant intellectual (and first Female Dean of Harvard Law School!), she has cultivated relationships that are looked upon fondly by both the right and the left. So while the left wants a big bully to headline their fight, and the right obviously wants to have a bigger team, hopefully what they get is what the Supreme Court should be all about—a compromise.

Though General Kagan’s resume is not as judicially extensive as other candidates, it is nonetheless just as impressive. In reading up on the nominee, I came across one possibly sore point for the right that frankly won my admiration. Won not as a democrat, or liberal or any other characteristic the world wants to pigeonhole me into because I’m young and I voted for Obama, but as a person. In 2005, we were in the heat of war and I was a student working towards my second degree. The air in New York was thick with tension and uncertainty as the country was horrified with images of hooded POWs while at the same time waving the ideologic/patriotic flag of a Christian America in the world’s face. I remember walking into the main hall at school feeling like a fattened cow for the slaughter as military recruiters almost always swooped in for the kill. They were aggressive, rude, argumentative, and completely unwelcome. Not that I was against the military, in fact serving for the marines was a serious consideration I had made several times. But being descended from Normandy war heroes from the WWII era, I was raised with the notion that a soldier’s duty was to protect the innocent. For me, Bush’s war on terror was an indiscriminate bloodbath that would never fit that bill. And when news came in that a close cousin was lying in an Iraqi hospital bed after being involved in an infamous un-armored Humvee incident, I became political. Though some may see the US Military as a giant corporation, I see something fundamentally wrong with treating life and limb like a commodity. If a citizen should choose to lay down their rights of freedom and risk everything to keep their fellows safe, then that citizen should be given the respect and the honor of freewill they deserve. They should not be met with discrimination and coercion. It is wrong to reject human beings as trash because they are openly homosexual, and it is wrong to essentially lie to an underprivileged student by over-exaggerating the financial benefits of a military tour. I stood for the walkouts, I held signs, I harassed the Deans — and it worked. A compromise was struck and recruiters were compelled to stay within a designated area of the school, where a student could choose to go, and no longer permitted to grab students unavoidably as they entered the school. Meanwhile, then Dean Kagan, was fighting the same battle at Harvard Law School. During the Spring 2005 semester at Harvard, Military Recruiters did not receive help from the Office of Career Services at Harvard Law and I know my college was able to act similarly based on this prestigious precedent. The recruiters and my college maintained their agreement throughout the remainder of my time there—and I walked into their recruitment office a week after my last class in another period of consideration. I believe General Kagan knows the value of a compromise, and I hope her wisdom is contagious. 

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