Kagan Confirmed; Historic Number of Women Now Seated on the Bench
August 5, 2010
Only moments ago, Solicitor General Elena Kagan was confirmed as the newest Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The Senate voted 63-37 with five Republicans voting in favor of her confirmation and one Democrat voting against it. HRC President Joe Solomonese released the following statement: “We commend the Senate for confirming Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. She has demonstrated an understanding of the need for equality for all Americans and her record indicates she may be more familiar with how laws and policies affect the LGBT community than any previously confirmed Justice.” On July 1, after thoroughly reviewing her record and her responses to questions posed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, HRC formally announced its endorsement of Kagan. In her testimony before the Committee, she indicated an understanding of the important issues facing many Americans, including those who are LGBT. Her opening statement pointed out what she saw as the command to every justice – the pursuit of Equal Justice Under Law – and argued for a “fair shake for every American.” She also took the opportunity to clarify a statement from her Solicitor General confirmation regarding the lack of a constitutional right to marry for same-sex couples as simply an assessment of where the law currently stands. Kagan’s record shows she has worked on LGBT issues during many phases of her career. While in the Clinton White House, she was involved in LGBT issues ranging from expanding hate crimes legislation to preventing employment discrimination to increasing funding for HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment. As Dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan supported the LGBT community and passionately defended the school’s sexual orientation anti-discrimination policy when it conflicted with the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law – a law she called “a profound wrong – a moral injustice of the first order.” Kagan will be the fourth woman to serve on our nation’s highest court and the third woman sitting on the current Supreme Court, marking the highest representation of women on the Court in its history. In addition, she will be the only member of the current Court to have not previously served as a judge – which ends the recent historical anomaly of having a Court comprised entirely of justices that entered the Court from the bench. This increased diversity will help provide greater perspectives to the Court, particularly regarding how the law affects everyday people, including LGBT Americans.