No Lesbian on Supreme Court Shortlist? Maybe, Maybe Not...
MSNBC's First Read reports on potential Obama Supreme Court nominees:
"According to a couple of sources in the know, there appears to be a working short list of about six names for President Obama’s Supreme Court pick. The co-frontrunners (in no particular order): Diane Wood of the 7th Circuit, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor of the 2nd Circuit, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Merrick Garland of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. Obviously, folks can slice this list all they want: Five are women; one’s Hispanic; one’s male; and all are in their late 40s or early 50s, except two (Wood, 58, and Garland, 56). Keep an eye on Napolitano. For this pick, it would be surprising if Obama named someone he didn't either know well or trust personally."
Previously-mentioned out lesbians Kathleen Sullivan and Pam Karlan (above) are not on the rumored shortlist. However, former Dean of Harvard Law School Elena Kagan is a strong LGBT advocate, according to Campus Progress:
"Her most significant work is on the Solomon Amendment, legislation that withholds federal funds from colleges and universities when they ban military recruiters because the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy conflicts with many universities’ antidiscrimination policies. As dean, Kagan supported a lawsuit intended to overturn the legislation so military recruiters might be banned from the grounds of schools like Harvard. When a federal appeals court ruled the Pentagon could not withhold funds, she banned the military from Harvard’s campus once again. The case was challenged in the Supreme Court, which ruled the military could indeed require schools to allow recruiters if they wanted to receive federal money. Kagan, though she allowed the military back, simultaneously urged students to demonstrate against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Throughout the controversy, Kagan maintained contact with Harvard Law School’s LGBT community. She attended a meeting of the student group Lambda and spoke with its leaders. Kagan has shown her commitment to advocating for LGBT rights, and it seems clear that Kagan’s experience battling Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell on campus demonstrates she understands the needs of Harvard Law’s gay and lesbian community."
Discussion of Kagan's sexuality (I haven't been able to find any reference to her being publicly out) can be found easily via a Google search. Here's one comment from a recent NYT thread:
"Why are people pretending that Elena Kagan is not a lesbian. She’s not out but that does not change her sexual orientation. She has a female partner. This is an open secret at Harvard Law School among students and faculty. I cannot speak for the broader legal community yet, but I’d have to believe her professional colleagues know as much or more than the students and professors she works with. The real irony would be if she did not get the nomination because she is not open, when the conventional wisdom has always been she has tiptoed through life in the closet for the very sake of winning a confirmation."
In any case, Kagan's experience with LGBT issues is reassuring.
Of course, Napolitano's sexuality has been questioned for years. In 2002, during the Arizona gubernatorial race she stated "I am not gay" in response to charges that she had a hidden gay agenda.
In related news, there was some question recently about ranking Senate Judiciary Committee Republican Jeff Sessions' (AL) openness to considering a gay nominee. He clarified that Monday: “I can vote for a gay nominee – we’ll just have to see. That’s just not the test really; the thing that I’m concerned about is high legal quality.”