As the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Supreme Court nominee Solicitor General Elena Kagan open today, the National Organization for Women promises to closely monitor the proceedings. Kagan's confirmation would make history, as she would be the third woman to currently serve on the court, increasing the composition of women justices to one-third -- more than have ever served at the same time.
NOW will observe the hearings and their coverage for any hint of sexism from the committee members or the media. Already, Kagan has been unfairly and unjustifiably attacked for her appearance, lack of a husband and children, and even for playing softball in college. As none of these factors have any relevance to her ability to serve on the Supreme Court, NOW hopes that the committee and the media will focus on Kagan's opinions concerning judicial philosophy instead of speculating about her personal life.
Kagan's background and record certainly suggest that she is qualified for the position as Supreme Court justice. She worked as a clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. In the Clinton administration, she served as deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy and then rose to be deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council. She is a former dean of Harvard Law School. In the Obama administration, as Solicitor General, she has argued six cases before the current Supreme Court.
Retiring Justice John Paul Stevens was a tireless defender of women's rights and a champion of social justice. He consistently voted in favor of protecting women's reproductive rights, ending gender-based discrimination, promoting racial equality, and recognizing the right to privacy for all, including the LGBT community. He leaves behind a proud legacy we hope will be carried on.
NOW is eager to learn if Elena Kagan, too, will stand for equality and fairness across the board. We will listen carefully to her answers to determine if she will be a strong guardian of the rights of women, people of color, the poor and other oppressed groups.
NOW is encouraged to see that the Supreme Court bench may soon welcome the fourth woman in its 221-year history. We approach the confirmation hearings of Elena Kagan with a clear understanding of the stakes for all women and look forward to hearing her responses to the committee's questions.
Read NOW's memorandum to the Senate Judiciary Committee, delivered on June 22, recommending questions to ask Elena Kagan to ascertain her commitment to upholding and advancing women's fundamental human rights.