.- Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan has intellect and integrity, but she needs to answer questions about particular legal issues such as abortion, marriage and the role of religion in public life, Princeton law professor Robert P. George commented on Monday. He described her nomination as a chance for a ânational conversationâ about the judiciary.
Writing in a Monday commentary at the web site of the American Principles Project, George cited then-Senator Barack Obamaâs remarks concerning his confirmation votes for Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. He said President Obama was right in the past to reject the idea that intellectual ability and âpersonal probityâ are sufficient qualifications for service on the U.S. Supreme Court.
George expressed agreement with then-Senator Obamaâs demand that a suitable justice have âa sound view of the role of the courts in our constitutional system.â
The dispute then is about the proper role of the courts. George claimed that President Obama envisions courts as âagents of social changeâ and misunderstands the âimportant but limited role of judgesâ in the U.S. system. Judges should not âusurpâ legislatorsâ authority.
Further, George argued, judges should not impose their own ideas about social justice or personal rights. When judges create a right to abortion, redefine marriage, or drive religion from public life, they âbetray the Constitution.â
He saw Kaganâs nomination as an opportunity for a ânational conversationâ on the role of the judiciary.
âTo this end, as Kagan herself noted in relation to previous Supreme Court nominees, it is imperative that she answer questions about particular issues, including abortion, marriage, and the role of religious faith in American public life,â George wrote. âFor her to decline to answer such questions would be not only to contradict herself but to undermine the valuable opportunity for a serious discussion of the role of courts that her nomination presents.â
Robert Peters, president of Morality in Media, on Monday also advanced questions about Kaganâs view of the U.S. Constitution as it relates to pornography and decency issues.
He asked whether she agrees with the 1973 Supreme Court ruling Paris Adult Theatre I v. Slaton, which said there is a âright of the Nation and of the States to maintain a decent societyâ or with the position that there is a right of pornographers and the entertainment media to âmaintain open moral sewers in our Nationâs communities and homes.â
Additionally, he inquired about her position on âadultâ clubs, the legal protection of minors from sexual and violent content, and the maintenance of decency and public morals.
Giving a possible insight into Kagan's political leanings is a 1980 essay written by the Supreme Court nominee that was recently republished in the Daily Princetonian.
In it, Kagan describes how she grew up on Manhattanâs Upper West Side and was crestfallen both at the defeat of feminist Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Liz Holtzman and at the victory of Ronald Reagan and other Republican candidates.
She said it was hard for her to conceive of the victories of these âanonymous but Moral Majority-backed opponents,â characterizing them as âthese avengers of âinnocent lifeâ.â While she mentioned few specific policies, she voiced hope for âa new, revitalized, perhaps more leftist left.â