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

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora