West Students Discuss Supreme Court

Andy O’Leary

In the roughly one-and-a-third year’s worth of time that has passed since Barack Obama took his oath as the 44th President of the United States, I’ve established myself among my politically active friends as one of his more persistent liberal critics. From certain parts of the stimulus bill to his sudden pre-oil spill change of heart on offshore oil drilling and even his stance on some foreign affairs, I’ve always had something to take issue with him on.

With that said, as much as I may sound like a broken record in doing this, I’ve got to say that I am strongly opposed to his recent nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.

I don’t take this lightly, even if I’ve got no say in it. After all, despite having some reservations about Obama’s first court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, I eventually came to support her as a qualified choice. However, as a career advisor to companies that caused our recent economic meltdown, such as Goldman-Sachs, as well as someone who has not spent a single moment as a judge at any time anywhere, I feel that she’s badly lacking in the qualifications befitting a Supreme Court Justice.

There’s also the unanswered question of ideology. For all we hear about Supreme Court Justices often being picked to interpret Constitutional law in a way that coalesces with the nominator’s ideology, Kagan does not seem to be particularly golden on that front. Political analysts are unsure if Kagan will hold legal opinions endorsing the Court’s designation of corporations being “people” like you, me, or your next-door neighbor, and the Bush Administration’s denial of due process to Guantanamo Bay detainees sticking out like sore right-wing thumbs.

If you couldn’t tell already, I’ll say it one more time: Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court must be rejected. President Obama needs to be made aware that unqualified career professionals who support unchecked corporate power and flagrant violations of the Geneva Convention will not be tolerated, even if this rejection would be a setback to his presidency.

Emily Roznowski

Buckle up Tosa West, it’s Supreme Court nomination time. From the exact moment on Monday, May 10th, when President Obama nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the bench, whispers have been slithering amongst the pundits and oozing down to the American people. She smokes cigars. She plays softball. She is a woman. She has no judicial experience. She would be the youngest on the Court. She is Jewish. She is a lesbian. She is not a lesbian. She is a socialist. She is a pragmatist. Because she has published little, she has no opinions on anything whatsoever. Regardless of their truth, it is important for us to resurface from this mass of rumors and answer the real question: Who cares?
Supreme Court justices, like all judges in America, are supposed to be impartial. Obviously this is not always the case, but I like to think the top nine hold themselves to a higher standard than your average schmuck in a robe and a wig. As quite possibly one of the world’s largest feminists, I am jumping for joy over the fact that Kagan’s appointment would make one-third of the Court women. But should this matter in her interpretation of the Constitution? No. Should it concern anyone that she wrote her senior thesis at Princeton University on socialism? No. Do we care that she, much like a few choice students at West, took up smoking in her teens? No! And should we obsess over the possible correlations between playing softball, celibacy, and homosexuality? For fear of embarrassing ourselves, no. I’m not blind; I realize that people are concerned about Kagan’s sexuality because of the inevitable appeal of Perry v Schwarzenegger, a case challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8 (which banned gay marriage in California), to the Supreme Court. Yet I truly believe that if Justice Scalia can write the majority opinion for Texas v Johnson, a case which upheld the right to burn an American flag, then any potentially gay justice can put aside his or her sexuality to rule solely on the constitutionality of gay marriage.
The one concern that I think is worth paying attention to is Kagan’s lack of any judicial experience. If appointed, she would be the first justice in four decades to sit on the bench with no prior judicial experience. But something tells me that by the record of the last justice to fit that bill, former Chief Justice Rehnquist, she’d turn out just fine.