Right-wing media figures have been quick to portray Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan as a "radical" or an "activist." In fact, Kagan is considered "one of the more moderate choices" for the Supreme Court and has been described as "fair-minded" and "well-respected" by conservative political and legal experts.
Right-wing media attempt to brand Kagan as "activist," "radical"
Beck: Kagan is "[a]nother left activist." On his May 10 radio show, Glenn Beck said, "The new justice ... has been named, Elena Kagan. Another left activist." Beck discussed Kagan's Princeton thesis, claiming that it was a "call to action" for socialists, while show producer Pat Gray said it "sounded like she was endorsing" socialism. In fact, her thesis simply explored historical questions about socialism.
Limbaugh: Kagan "is a pure academic elitist radical." On his May 10 radio show, Rush Limbaugh declared Kagan to be "a pure academic elitist radical."
Hoft: "Obama Picks Anti-Military Loon Elena Kagan For Supreme Court." In a May 10 Gateway Pundit post, Jim Hoft called Kagan an "anti-military loon" because she "expelled military recruiters from the Harvard campus in defiance of The Solomon Act." Hoft also called her "[l]eftwing activist Kagan" and claimed "the fact that Obama would nominate some radical with such poor judgement [sic] to the Supreme Court surprises no one." In fact, Kagan consistently followed the law in her military recruiting policies, and Harvard students had access to military recruiters during her entire tenure as dean.
PowerLine: "There is little to support the claim that Kagan is a centrist." In an April 22 post, PowerLine's Paul Mirengoff wrote:
As for her ideology, there is little to support the claim that Kagan is a centrist. To be sure, there's not that much of a track record. She has never been a judge and her academic career, in which she most recently served as an administrator, does not appear to have produced a rich body of tell-tale scholarship. However, she's clearly an ardent supporter of gay rights, including the right to same-sex marriage.
Indeed, the only evidence I'm aware of that suggests Kagan would be other than a garden-variety judicial leftist is her stance on issues related the war on terrorism.
Free Republic: "Barack Obama Names Pro-Abortion Activist Elena Kagan to Supreme Court." On May 10, Free Republic highlighted a LifeNews.com post calling Kagan a "pro-abortion activist," claiming, "Obama named pro-abortion Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court today to replace retiring pro-abortion Justice John Paul Stevens."
In fact, Kagan is considered relatively moderate, and numerous conservatives have praised her
Kagan is "considered one of the more moderate choices." Reuters noted on May 7 that Kagan is "considered one of the more moderate choices on Obama's short list of potential court nominees."
Reagan Solicitor General Charles Fried endorsed Kagan's nomination, describing her as "adroit politically" and "not ideological." The Huffington Post reported on April 9 that Charles Fried -- solicitor general during the Reagan administration -- "said that he'd support a Kagan pick." Fried reportedly said: "She is a supremely intelligent person, really one of the most intelligent people I have encountered, and I have met a lot of them, as one does in this business. She is very adroit politically. ... She has quite a strong personality and a winning personality. I think she's an effective, powerful person and a very, very intelligent person, and a very hardworking and serious person." Fried reportedly added that Kagan was "not ideological" and advised Republicans to support her.
Bush administration assistant AG Goldsmith spoke of Kagan's ability to judge problems "without ideological suppositions." In a letter supporting Kagan's nomination for solicitor general, Jack Goldsmith, former assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush administration, stated: "Good judgment is a hard quality to describe, but Kagan has it. She understands problems in all their dimensions, she thinks about them clearly and without ideological suppositions, and she has a knack for understanding well the consequences and ramifications of various courses of action." He added: "Her success at Harvard also resulted from her shrewd ability to bridge disagreement. Kagan does this by listening to all sides of an argument, by engaging interlocutors honestly and empathetically, and by exercising her judgment openly and with good reasons." Goldsmith also stated: "It might seem over the top to say that Kagan combines principle, pragmatism, and good judgment better than anyone I have ever met. But it is true."
NRO's Daniel Foster praised Kagan as being "well-respected by just about everybody on both sides." In an April 9 post on The Corner, National Review Online news editor Daniel Foster wrote that Kagan "is well-respected by just about everybody on both sides."
Hayes: "Kagan treats conservative arguments with respect." On the May 7 edition of Fox News' Special Report, The Weekly Standard's Steve Hayes praised Kagan's fair-mindedness and intellect, saying: "She is by all accounts from people who have dealt with her personally and intellectually someone who can make convincing and compelling arguments and martial her arguments in a way that is persuasive to people who might not otherwise be predisposed to agree with her. And I think you're seeing that to a certain extent in the, sort of half embrace she is getting from some conservatives, particularly conservative academics. You know, it goes beyond just the fact she hired three conservatives at Harvard, and certainly that is to her credit, but it's also the fact that she treats conservative arguments with respect, that she seems to genuinely be interested in understanding where conservative jurists are coming from." [Special Report, 5/7/10]
Former Bush lawyer Berenson lauded Kagan's "fair-minded consideration of competing views." From a letter sent by former Bush administration assistant White House counsel Bradford Berenson supporting Kagan's solicitor general nomination:
Her legal acumen is more than equal to the task she faces, as reflected in her scholarship. The spirit of toleration and fair-minded consideration of competing views she brought to the Deanship reflect the sort of temperament and judgment that will inspire confidence in the Justices of the Supreme Court as well as the private parties with whom she will need to interact as SG. The same institutional loyalty that has enabled her to put Harvard Law School's interests ahead of her own will undoubtedly cause her to do likewise in service of the United States.
Starr, Olson, and bipartisan group of former solicitors general: Kagan held in "high regard" by "persons of a wide variety of political and social views." In a letter sent by people who "serv[ed] as Solicitor General over the past quarter century, from 1985 to 2009," Charles Fried, Kenneth Starr, Drew Days, Walter Dellinger, Seth Waxman, Theodore Olson, Paul Clement, and Gregory Garre stated:
The well-deserved stature that Kagan has achieved in the legal profession will enhance her tenure as Solicitor General, ensuring that, within the executive branch, her voice and the conclusions reached by the Solicitor General will be accorded the highest respect. The extraordinary skill she has demonstrated in bringing to Harvard an impressive array of new scholars, her ability to manage and lead a complex institution, and the high regard in which she is held by persons of a wide variety of political and social views, suggest that she will excel at the important job of melding the views of various agencies and departments into coherent positions that advance the best interests of the national government.
Bush judicial nominee Estrada said Kagan's time at Harvard proves she is "someone who can create consensus"; praised her for "work[ing] tirelessly to bring intellectual diversity" to the school. In a letter supporting her nomination for solicitor general, Miguel Estrada -- who President Bush nominated to be a D.C. Circuit judge -- stated that Kagan's "tenure as Dean [of Harvard Law School] demonstrates that she is a uniquely gifted administrator-someone who can create consensus even in an institution that had become notorious for its fractiousness. For good measure, she has worked tirelessly to bring intellectual diversity to an institution that for too long had too little of it."
Former assistant solicitors general: "Kagan is a person of great legal and personal skills, intellect, integrity, independence, and judgment." Six former assistant solicitors general -- four of whom also served as deputy solicitors general -- wrote: "In sum, Dean Kagan is a person of great legal and personal skills, intellect, integrity, independence and judgment. We therefore believe, based on extensive personal experience, that she has all the attributes that are essential to an outstanding Solicitor General."