News / USA

US Supreme Court Nominee Faces Senate Confirmation Hearing

Multimedia

In final days before the start of Elena Kagan's Supreme Court nominee confirmation hearing, lawmakers and journalists are scouring her record to find indications of what type of judge she might be. The former Harvard Law School dean rarely speaks openly about her views.

Many faculty members at Harvard Law School say they are not surprised about Elena Kagan's nomination to sit on the nation's highest court. Ellen Cosgrove, the school's current dean of students, had this to say about her.

"Rock Star," Cosgrove said.

And Cosgrove isn't the only one singing Kagan's praise. Last week 69 law school deans from around the United States endorsed Kagan's nomination in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee's Democratic Party chairman and top opposition Republican.



Republican lawmakers say she lacks judicial experience because she has never been a judge, and both sides are unsure of her political leanings.

Former Hunter College High School classmate Leslie Hunter-Gadsen says Kagan always seemed to be a private person.

"It wasn't that you couldn't be friendly with Elena, because we were, but I think she did keep a little of that, her private, inner self," says Hunter-Gadsen.

Kagan's American history teacher at Hunter, Anna Morello agrees. She says Kagan takes after her mother, a long-time teacher at Hunter College Elementary School.

"Her mother was a teacher who one would not hear political issues discussed," Morello said.

Kagan and her two brothers grew up in a middle class neighborhood on Manhattan's Upper West Side. In contrast to her mother's quiet demeanor, her father was an outspoken attorney and activist. Kagan is often called, her father's daughter.

"She questions...She was a questioning person, so one did not get away with anything with her," she adds.

Leslie Hunter-Gadsen recalls Kagan's attempt to change the school's smoking policies.

"She had actually gone to bat with the administration asking if one of the bathrooms could be a smoking bathroom, which is a lot of guts for a high school student," says Hunter-Gadsen.

Kagan continued to speak her mind after high school. As Harvard Law School dean, she opposed on-campus military recruiting because of the U.S. military's policy of barring gays from openly serving in the armed forces. She said the military's ban violated the university's policy against sexual discrimination.

Alexa Shabecoff is the assistant dean for public service at Harvard Law School.

"She was between a rock and a hard place, between upholding the civil rights of the students who are protected by our anti-discrimination policy and obeying the changes in the legislation," Shabecoff said.

Kagan reversed the ban when the military threatened to withhold all federal money from Harvard.

What supporters say most about Kagan is that she is fair-minded. Current Harvard Dean Elena Cosgrove says Kagan brought balance to the school's liberal faculty by hiring more conservative teachers.

Cosgrove says, "She didn't just hire them. She also did things to really encourage the faculty to interact with each another."

Kagan's professional record outside academia also faces scrutiny. Some Democrats are concerned she is too centrist, while conservatives worry her stances on abortion and free speech will lean to the left.

Kagan is currently the Solicitor General of the United States, serving as the government's top lawyer in cases before the Supreme Court.

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid