Sunday, June 27, 2010

Civil Rights Groups Question Obama Nominee Kagan's Record

It's seems you can't please everybody, no matter what. President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is under fire from a number of civil rights groups because of what some of them see as an insufficiently supportive record on diversity, racial profiling and affirmative action.

The National Bar Association, the main association of black lawyers, refrained from endorsing Kagan, giving her only a lukewarm 'qualified' rating. The group's president, Mavis T. Thompson,was quoted as saying that the group "had some qualms" about Kagan's positions on crack-cocaine sentencing, as well as on what it termed her inadequate emphasis while the dean of Harvard Law School on diversity.

A number of black and Latino groups have focused on the fact that while Kagan was dean, not a single black or Latino faculty member was hired into a tenure-track position, academia's lifetime employment goldmine. These decisions are made by committee, and there's no evidence that Kagan voted against any prospective black or Latino candidates, or even that there were any qualified black or Latino qualified applicants available. But the fact that none were appointed during her tenure as dean is being laid at Kagan's feet.

Other questions have surfaced based on the limited records made available from Kagan's sojourn in the Clinton White House, and several black academics who worked with her in the Clinton White House have gone public on matters like her stance against incorporating a ban on racial profiling into president Clinton's 1999 race initiative, and her attitudes, described by one of them as 'skeptical' and 'argumentative' towards the Civil Rights Commission.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)is also questioning Kagan's record on Latinos, and wants questions raised about a note by Kagan in which she described discussions on how to deal with Central Americans displaced in 1998 by Hurricane Mitch as "lots of legal gobbledygook".

MALDEF President Thomas Saenz said that as far as he's concerned "there are certain absences in the record" on Kagan. "And, therefore, there are questions to be asked."

What to make of all this?

There are plenty of good and sufficient reasons to oppose Elena Kagan becoming a Supreme Court Justice, but I doubt that racial insensitivity is one of them. She was, after all, hired to work at the White House by two Democratic presidents who counted minority support as an important part of their political coalition. And she was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Obama.

If I had to guess, there are two motivations behind these groups' questioning of Kagan's bonifides. First, I think that there's some disappointment that President Obama didn't nominate another black or Hispanic to the court, and this is a way of expressing it without actually saying so. Second, these groups want to use the hearings as an excuse to get Kagan down on the record as supporting their agenda, regardless of any Constitutional or ethical considerations involved.

Live by identity politics, die by identity politics.

please helps me write more gooder!

No comments: