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Apr. 18 2010 - 11:41 pm | 439 views | 1 recommendation | 2 comments

Kagan confusion highlights a nonissue

Ten days ago I posted an item about Elena Kagan’s lack of judicial experience as a possible hurdle to her joining the Supreme Court. After all, it’s been nearly 40 years since the Senate confirmed a justice who hadn’t previously served on the bench. The current Court is composed entirely of former appellate court judges, which represents quite a shift. Consider that not one of the nine justices on the Court that decided Brown v. Board of Education had that background.

In making my point about Kagan’s resume in the context of the professionalized judiciary, I also linked to an item from the gay news blog Queerty claiming she is a lesbian. Like all reporters, I take pride in having a finely tuned bullshit detector, but it now looks like I may have been tricked, hoodwinked, and/or bamboozled. The issue blew up after CBS published a column by former Bush administration aide Ben Domenech arguing the Obama administration would curry favor with its political base by selecting an openly gay nominee, drawing condemnation from the White House, which said Kagan is straight. CBS pulled its post, while Queerty is sticking to its story, asserting that “Kagan is, in fact, a homogay, and is out among personal friends.”

A statement from the White House is clearly a more authoritative source than a blog post, even if the blog in question claims to have no agenda, “except that gay one.” On balance, though, I think my original point – Kagan’s professional experience is the issue, not her sexual orientation – still applies. Slate’s headline to a piece from Emily Bazelon and Dahlia Lithwick puts it best: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Matter.”

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Harvard Law Record used under a Creative Commons license)


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    About Me

    During my career in journalism, I've had the chance to write about all three branches of that hulking leviathan known as the federal government, starting with the judiciary as the L.A. federal court reporter for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and San Francisco Daily Journal. Since moving to Washington in 2008, I've reported on the Supreme Court, Congress, and the executive branch. I'm also interested in media studies, food, and the terrifying lows, dizzying highs, and creamy middles of the Boston sports scene.

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