Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Black Scholars Keep Weighing in on Supreme Court Nominee, Elena Kagan

by Dr. Wilmer Leon

On Monday May 10th President Obama nominated Elena Kagan to replace retiring Associate Justice John Paul Stevens. Many see this selection as a prudent political move; as the sitting solicitor general, Ms. Kagan has already been vetted and confirmed by the current Senate. This means that President Obama will not have to expend much political capital in order to get his nominee approved.

There are those who are questioning if not opposing the selection of Ms. Kagan for a number of different reasons. President Obama called her a "trailblazing leader… " and stated "Elena is widely regarded as one of the nation's foremost legal minds … " Some believe that while former President George W. Bush was eroding constitutional protections, Ms. Kagen, this “trailblazing leader” was conspicuously silent.

Others question Ms. Kagan’s record of minority hiring while dean of Harvard University’s Law School. During her tenure Dean Kagan hired 32 tenured and tenure-track academic faculty members. Of these, 25 were white men, 6 white women, and one Asian American woman. During her six years in the position there were no African American or Latinos hired. Just 3% of her hires were non-white. It is important to note that according to Harvard’s 2009 Annual Report the entire Harvard faculty consists of 26% female, 3% African American, and 3% Latino.

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