The right-wing media has falsely claimed Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is “anti-military” because she temporarily barred Harvard Law School's Office of Career Services from aiding military recruiters due to the military's discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. In fact, Kagan has repeatedly praised the military for its “courage,” “dedication” and “great service.”
Conservatives smear Kagan as “anti-military loon” with “hostility to the U.S. military”
Kristol: Kagan has a “hostility to the U.S. military.” William Kristol wrote in a May 10 entry on the Weekly Standard blog, headlined “An Anti-Military Justice?” :
For me, the key obstacle to Elena Kagan's confirmation is pt. 5 in Ed Whelan's NRO post, which is also the question raised by Peter Berkowitz in these pages several years ago and by Peter Beinart just recently: Her hostility to the U.S. military.
Hostility? Isn't that harsh? Kagan has professed at times her admiration for those who serve in the military, even as she tried to bar military recruiters from Harvard Law School. But how does one square her professed admiration with her actions--embracing an attempt to overturn the Solomon Amendment that was rejected 8-0 by the Supreme Court--and her words?
Many important people are complicit in what Kagan regards as the “moral injustice of the first order” of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The only ones Kagan sought to make pay a price were those serving the ranks of the military.
So Kagan needs to be asked: Why doesn't this reflect hostility to the military?
Gateway Pundit: Kagan is an “anti-military loon.” Jim Hoft wrote in a May 10 Gateway Pundit post, headlined “Obama Picks Anti-Military Loon Elena Kagan For Supreme Court” :
Obama picked an anti-military loon to sit on the Supreme Court today. Elena Kagan expelled military recruiters from the Harvard campus in defiance of The Solomon Act. Her case was rejected by even the most liberal justices of the Supreme Court. Of course, the fact that Obama would nominate some radical with such poor judgement to the Supreme Court surprises no one.
Elena Kagan's most notable foray into public life was kicking military recruiters off of Harvard's campus. This must have impressed Barack Obama so much that he is putting her on the Supreme Court.
God Bless America.
Kagan repeatedly praised military, cadets in West Point speech
Kagan: “I am in awe of your courage and your dedication,” military is “noblest of all professions.” From Kagan's October 17, 2007, speech at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York:
Each of you has made a decision -- a profound commitment -- to join “the long grey line” of service. I am in awe of your courage and your dedication, especially in these times of great uncertainty and danger. I know how much my security and freedom and indeed everything else I value depend on all of you.
I don't accept many outside speaking invitations; this may be the only talk of this kind that I'll give this year. I accepted this invitation primarily to thank all of you senior cadets -- and to wish you godspeed as you go forward to serve your country and your fellow citizens in the greatest and most profound way possible.
This is a special institution, the United States Military Academy. It is an institution that symbolizes excellence and that produces leaders who have an impact on the world. Those words- “excellence,” “leadership,” “impact” -come pretty easily to me; I use them all the time when talking about Harvard Law School.
In part because of these connections, still more because of the vital role the military plays in the well-being of our country, I have been grieved in recent years to find your world and mine, the U.S. military and U.S. law schools, at odds -- indeed, facing each other in court -- on one issue. That issue is the military's don't-ask-don't-tell policy. Law schools, including mine, believe that employment opportunities should extend to all their students, regardless of their race or sex or sexual orientation. And I personally believe that the exclusion of gays and lesbians from the military is both unjust and unwise. I wish devoutly that these Americans too could join this noblest of all professions and serve their country in this most important of all ways.
But I would regret very much if anyone thought that the disagreement between American law schools and the US military extended beyond this single issue. It does not. And I would regret still more if that disagreement created any broader chasm between law schools and the military. It must not. It must not because of what we, like all Americans, owe to you. And it must not because of what I am going to talk with you about tonight -- because of the deep, the fundamental, the necessary connection between military leadership and law. That connection makes it imperative that we -- military leaders and legal educators -- join hands and be partners.
And this is not merely a lesson for today; it is in fact a more timeless truth. Return with me to Constitution Corner and the West Point class of 1943. The members of that class were the ones who stormed the beaches at Normandy and seized the airfields at Iwo Jima. They witnessed firsthand the travails of war, and they courageously upheld their pledge, as I know you will, to “Duty, Honor, Country.” But when they returned home and came back to their alma mater -- back home to West Point -- they chose to commemorate something other than the battles and bloodshed they left behind. They chose, with Constitution Comer, to pay tribute to the rule of law.
Thank you for listening. And thank you for all you will do for your country.
Even while opposing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Kagan praised military service
Kagan noted “the extraordinary service that members of the military provide to all the rest of us.” In an October 6, 2003, email announcing that Harvard Law School would allow military recruiters on campus even though the school believes that, through Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the military violated the school's policy that recruiters on campus not “discriminate on various bases, including sexual orientation,” Kagan wrote, “This action causes me deep distress, as I know it does a great many others. I abhor the military's discriminatory recruitment policy. The importance of the military to our society -- and the extraordinary service that members of the military provide to all the rest of us -- makes this discrimination more, not less, repugnant.”
Kagan: Military service is “the greatest service a person can give for their country.” At an October 2004 rally protesting against military recruitment on campus, Kagan reportedly said: “These men and women, notwithstanding their talents, their conviction, their courage, cannot perform what I truly believe to be the greatest service a person can give for their country. And that's just wrong, that's just flat out wrong.”
Kagan notes “great service that members of the military provide to all the rest of us.” In a September 20, 2005, letter offering “background” on the school's stance on military recruiting on campus, Kagan wrote: “The importance of the military to our society -- and the great service that members of the military provide to all the rest of us -- heightens, rather than excuses, this inequity.”
Kagan: “The military is a noble profession.” In an October 2008 statement on the military recruiting issue, Kagan wrote, “The military is a noble profession, which provides extraordinary service to each of us every day.”
Iraq veterans at Harvard: Kagan has offered “embrace” of veterans on campus
Veterans: Kagan hosts Veterans Day dinner for service members. Responding to a January 30, 2009, Washington Times op-ed by Flagg Youngblood labeling Kagan an “anti-military zealot,” three Iraq war veterans attending Harvard Law School -- Erik Swabb, Geoff Orazem, and Hagan Scotten -- wrote in a letter to the editor that Kagan has “created an environment that is highly supportive of students who have served in the military” :
During her time as dean, she has created an environment that is highly supportive of students who have served in the military. For the past three years, Miss Kagan has hosted a Veterans Day dinner for all former service members and spouses. She pioneered this event on her own initiative, which has meant a great deal to students.
Indeed, every year, Miss Kagan makes a point to mention the number of veterans in the first-year class during her welcome address to new students. Under her leadership, Harvard Law School has also gone out of its way to highlight our military service, publishing numerous articles on the school Web site and in alumni newsletters. These are not actions of an “anti-military zealot,” and greater care should be exercised before someone is labeled as such.
Veteran: “Kagan has great respect for the military.” From a February 19, 2009, Harvard Law Record article about the letter by Swabb, Orazem and Scotten:
Orazem, who served as a Marine Corps infantry officer in the invasion of Iraq, called the op-ed's attacks a “low blow” and “unfounded.” Hagan Scotten, formerly a Captain in the Army Special Forces, agreed, saying, “He was just playing off of political stereotypes. Kagan has great respect for the military, and if anything she wants everyone to be allowed, regardless of whether they are openly gay.”
Dean Kagan's annual dinners for veterans and the wives of servicemen have given Orazem, Scotten and Swabb an opportunity to gauge her views on the military. “The dinners were a unique opportunity to interact with Dean Kagan informally,” said Orazem. “She is a little intimidating, because she always has very intelligent, penetrating questions to ask.”
Orazem also noted that Kagan once shared an anecdote about a visit to Westpoint, when she was invited to speak about Constitutional issues. “She was very complimentary about the cadets, the discipline, the culture of respect, and the history of the institution.”
Kagan consistently followed the law on military recruiters while allowing students access to them
Throughout Kagan's tenure as dean, Harvard law students had access to military recruiters -- either through Harvard's Office of Career Services or through the Harvard Law School Veterans Association. Moreover, Kagan consistently followed existing law regarding access to military recruiters. Kagan briefly restricted (but did not eliminate) access to recruiters only after the U.S Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit ruled that law schools could do so. As The New York Times and Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano have explained, Kagan was “following the law” throughout this period.