Does Kagan’s Sexual Orientation Matter?

I don't think so. But I'm curious what others think, especially those who think it does matter. If you do think it matters, how far would you take the inquiry?

(1) Should Elena Kagan or the White House disclose her sexual orientation in a public statement?

(2) If she (or the WH) doesn't, should a Senator ask about it at her confirmation hearing?

(3) If she says that is not a matter she will discuss, or says that she has no defined sexual orientation, should the Senate seek evidence (testimony of former partners, appearance at bars, magazine subscriptions, etc) to produce evidence of what it might be?

(4) Should her refusal to discuss it be a consideration in whether a Senator should vote to confirm or reject her nomination?

(5) Is sexual orientation, per se, relevant to a nominee's duties as a justice?

I'm not sure what position, if any, David or Steve would take on these questions. But their posts did get me thinking about them.

5 Comments for “Does Kagan’s Sexual Orientation Matter?”

  1. posted by barry on

    We know enough about Kagan to expect her to side with Breyer, Ginsberg, and Sotomayor most of the time.

    In my opinion, that’s all that matters. People who agree with that camp should support her. Those Senators who disagree should vote against her, while showing her the respect and deference she deserves as an individual and as a presidential nominee, and they should congratulate her when she is approved, as she almost certainly will be.

    Clearly, I am not among those who believe that a court

    nominee’s views are irrelevant to the confirmation process. Nothing is more relevant.

    But her personal life? It’s hard to even imagine how that can be relevant. It would be nice if successful and respected people would all come out, as it might help some young gays feel better about themselves. So if she’s gay, it would be kind of nice if she comes out. But if she is gay and decides to evade the issue in order not to endanger her chances– that’s her choice. If I were in a position to impose my views on the entire country for the next 30 years, I would not risk that chance in order to come out just now. Plenty of time for that later– if she is gay.

    Not that it would make a difference anyway.

  2. posted by inahandbasket on

    In the context of diversity and history, if it matters that Thurgood Marshall was #96 justice and Sandra Day O’Connor was #102 SCOTUS justice seated after 100 white men, then, yes, it does matter. Was it ground breaking history to seat Justices Marshall and O’Connor? Did they not bring a new perspective to the Supreme Court? I think so. Gay rights are the civil rights issue of this generation, like women’s rights and black civil rights.

    As to your above questions, I do not think it is proper for the Senate to ask those questions, rather, the media, both left, right and alternative, have a job to do. If the media wants to pursue the question of any public figure’s sexual orientation as it relates to their profession, have at it (see George Rekers, Larry Craig, David Vitter).

    I would be wary of a SCOTUS justice in this day and age who is closeted. I am not specifically talking about Kagan, but ANY justice. The closet is toxic and compromises one’s rational thought process. Any justice or elected official who would hide their personal life to such an extent is a dangerous person.

    Also, I would think that a closeted justice would not be nominated because doesn’t the spouse of a SCOTUS justice need to be vetted as to possible professional conflicts of interest?

    N.B.: a personal life is NOT your private life. We know a lot about every president’s personal life, i.e., his wife and kids, pets and crazy siblings (Billy Carter, et. al.). The press respected JFK’s private life (his numerous affairs) and trumpeted his personal life (uber telegenic Jackie and the kids).

    Personally, isn’t it great, whatever your politics are and no matter how much like/dislike President Obama, to see the obvious chemistry between him and his wife? To see the Obama girls playing with Bo? You could see the same chemistry with President Reagan and Nancy Reagan. To see a personal side to presidents and SCOTUS justices makes them human.

    Is that such a bad thing?

  3. posted by bobby on

    Closet gays are not good for the government because they could be subjected to blackmail, so Kagan has a responsibility to state her sexual orientation. This is important because some of the SCOTUS votes are 5 to 4, so if Kagan stays in the closet she could be manipulated to vote in a way that lets her stay closeted.

  4. posted by William Quill on

    I don’t think it’s at all relevant to her confirmation hearing, but I do think the negative way the WH reacted, as if it were a charge, perpetuates the idea of being gay as something to be just tolerated. They should probably have just ignored the whole thing, and when asked, said that it was not a question for them.

    But if someone were to ask it, I don’t think they should be shouted down for it. It does help understand someone’s character. There’s a difference between a question like that, and asking someone how their relationship is going, which is a personal question. But on that, any justice would have to recuse themselves from a case which involved their spouse or partner. So suppose she is gay and not telling us, there could potentially be occurrences of that. The same would obviously also apply for any single person dating someone.

    And I agree with what inahandbasket said, if diversity is something we’re to be pleased about, why not in this instance. It didn’t mean Obama was any better qualified to be president that he was black, but it was something to be pleased of that it was no longer a barrier. So even if it shouldn’t affect how she reads the law, it should still be something to pleased of if there were an openly gay justice.

    Bobby, I don’t think it’s as serious as the possibility of blackmail. However the WH have been responding, I think we are past the point where they’d actually care that much and that it would be an issue from a blackmail point of view.

  5. posted by Bobby on

    “Bobby, I don’t think it’s as serious as the possibility of blackmail.”

    —Well, in the military there are different types of security clearances you need to get, in the book about nurse Gretta Cammermeyer she got canned after answering truthfully about her sexual orientation. Also, during the cold war the KGB used to blackmail Americans by either having a sexy KGB agent commit adultery with them or by uncovering their homosexuality.

    Let me ask you a question, do you trust someone with secrets? I mean, if someone is lying about their sexual orientation, what else are they lying about? What else do they have to hide?

    Seriously, the way Obama hides Kagan from the media is scary, I’m telling you, Obama is worst than Nixon!

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