Is Elena Kagan Not Left-Wing Enough to Satisfy the Times?

Liberal Supreme Court pick Elena Kagan not politically correct enough for the Times? "The administration has been pushing back against any suggestion that Ms. Kagan has been insensitive on racial matters, as have some of her black supporters."

The Times continues to suggest that Obama's Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan isn't sufficiently leftist. Last week the paper painted Kagan as a moderate on the issue of keeping military recruiters out of Harvard Law School, even though she openly protested the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy and banned recruiters from the school's recruitment office in consequence.

On Friday, reporter Katharine Seelye also prodded Kagan from the left, this time on the issue of race, in "Court Pick Scrutinized Hiring At Harvard."

When Elena Kagan became dean of Harvard Law School in 2003, she could have taken the endowed chair named for Isaac Royall Jr. The Royall family had donated more than 2,100 acres to Harvard in the 1700s, but the family had earned its fortune on the backs of the slave trade.

Ms. Kagan declined to take the Royall professorship. Instead, she chose a new chair in the name of Charles Hamilton Houston, the first African-American on the Harvard Law Review and a crusader against Jim Crow laws.

Ms. Kagan's history on race issues at Harvard has come under scrutiny since President Obama nominated her to the Supreme Court on Monday. Critics say that she did not create enough racial diversity at Harvard, and that in the absence of any writings or opinions, her hiring practices serve as a clue to her thinking. Her supporters counter that she demonstrated a commitment to equality; her claiming the chair in the name of Mr. Houston, they said, is but one example.


After it was clear that Mr. Obama, the first black president, would nominate Ms. Kagan, several black women wrote to him saying they were disappointed that he had not nominated a black woman.

The women, who included Melanie Campbell of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, also said they wanted to learn more about Ms. Kagan's record on civil rights.

The administration has been pushing back against any suggestion that Ms. Kagan has been insensitive on racial matters, as have some of her black supporters.

And check out the headline to this May 17, 2009 story from Eric Lichtblau faulting Kagan for being too agreeable: "Potential Justice's Appeal May Be Too Bipartisan." (Kagan was on Obama's short list to be his first Supreme Court pick before Sonia Sotomayor got the nod.) The text box emphasized: "Some admirers on the left worry about all those admirers on the right."

Being seen as bipartisan would of course never be a source of concern regarding the pick from a Republican president - in fact, the Times would be pushing those conservative nominees to be more bipartisan and open to compromise.

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