It didn’t take long for the far right to launch a coordinated attack on President Obama’s new Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan — and one of the right’s primary weapons is the suggestion that Kagan is a lesbian.
Currently the U.S. solicitor general, Kagan is a highly respected legal scholar, served as the first female dean of Harvard Law School and clerked for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Conservative critics note that she has not served as a judge, but neither did many past Supreme Court justices. In any case, some far-right groups have decided that the most relevant question for her nomination debate revolves around rumors that she’s gay. And those far-right groups assume that Kagan, if she is a lesbian, would either be morally unqualified for the post or have a conflict of interest when the court considers (as it almost certainly will) cases involving civil rights for gays and lesbians. (Oddly, none of them says Justice Clarence Thomas, who is African-American, has a conflict of interest in cases involving civil rights for racial and ethnic minorities. Nor do they suggest that female justices can’t be expected to render fair decisions based on the law and the Constitution in cases involving women’s rights.)
Here’s what Liberty Institute, the Texas affiliate of the far-right group Focus on the Family, had to say in an e-mail blast this morning:
“Kagan is a liberal and the former dean of Harvard Law School. She has been criticized because, as dean, she banned Army recruiters on the university’s campus based on her position on homosexual and lesbian rights and her disagreement with the military’s position. She recently came into the spotlight after national media reported that she is a lesbian, and would be the first on the Supreme Court if appointed.”
Other far-right groups have been more directly hostile. “Obama nominates Lesbian Homosexual Elena Kagan to Supreme Court,” screams an e-mail from The Pray in Jesus Name Project. From Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality:
“If Kagan is practicing immoral sexual behavior, it reflects on her character as a judicial nominee and her personal bias as potentially one of the most important public officials in America. The popular mantra — even among conservatives — is that Kagan’s sexuality is ‘irrelevant.’ But a Justice Kagan would help decide some critically important constitutional issues dealing with: homosexual ‘marriage’ as a supposed civil right; religious liberty and freedom of conscience; and the First Amendment as applied to citizens’ right to oppose homosexuality. So it certainly matters if she, as a lifetime judge, could emerge as a crusading (openly) ‘gay’ advocate on the court.”
Expect the right’s rhetoric to get even uglier in coming months.