No Lesbian on Supreme Court Shortlist? Maybe, Maybe Not…

MSNBC's First Read reports on potential Obama Supreme Court nominees:

Sullivan_karlan "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:

Kagan "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.”


  1. crispy says

    From Wiki: Janet Napolitano has never married. She is an avid basketball fan and regularly plays tennis. Whitewater rafting and hiking are some of Napolitano’s hobbies.

    Seems pretty obvious to me.

  2. Leland Frances says

    This is nothing more than the latest THIS WILL PROVE HE REALLY DOES LOVE US fantasy game that will soon join AMAZING GAY CABINET MEMBER RACE and NAME THAT GAY SECTY OF THE NAVY growing dust on the shelf.

    Shame on the otherwise wonderful Chuck Wolfe at Victory Fund for starting it.

    We MIGHT get some kind of Stonewall 40 statement. Obamagay Brian Bond is promising one. [He’s a former head of the Victory Fund. Hmmm.] Will it top Bill Clinton’s proclamation declaring June 1999 “Gay & Lesbian Pride Month” for the 30th anniversary?

    But I’ll believe Michelle marching in New York’s Pride Parade as Hillary did as First Lady when I see it.

  3. 24play says

    Kagan will be Obama’s 2nd or 3rd nominee to the Court.

    This time, it’s gonna be Sotomayor or Wood.

  4. samwise says

    Listen, while a lesbian would be a great symbolic move, I think its just fundamentally more important that the pick be for equal rights and protections for LGBT Americans. As reluctant as the Dems are to champion our civil rights, it very well may be these picks that will grant us liberty.

  5. Derrick from Philly says

    “But I’ll believe Michelle marching in New York’s Pride Parade as Hillary did as First Lady when I see it.”

    Oh, Leland, June 28th will be too damn hot to march in some damn parade. Michelle ought to send Bo instead.

  6. 24play says

    Leland knows how hot it gets. He was sniffing Hillary’s pantsuit for days after she marched.

  7. DR says

    Napolitano as someone to keep an eye on? Really? She is 100 days into her stint as Secretary of Homeland Security. Seems like a waste to throw her name out there as some sort of experiment to see how people will respond. I’d rather his name people who could be in serious contention for the job; he’s had a few problems filling his cabinet, I’d hate to think that a good pick in it was just to get her feet wet in anticipation of an appointment to the USSCt….

  8. Kugel says

    “Kagan will be Obama’s 2nd or 3rd nominee to the Court.

    This time, it’s gonna be Sotomayor or Wood.”

    I think you are right.

  9. realitythink says

    Janet Napolitano not gay? Oh come on!! I think Charles Nelson Reilly wasn’t gay either.

  10. Leland Frances says

    Now, Derrick, you know that New York heat will finally give beautiful Michelle a real excuse to go sleeveless.

    “Shoulders in the night, two lonely deltoids, we were shoulders in the night.
    Up to the moment when we said our first hello little did we know taste was just a glance away, a warm embracing Valentino away.”

    He may serve a phoney baloney buffet for The Gays, and I don’t imagine her Secret Service detail will be mapping the NYC route, but the two do seem gloriously in love with each other and that’s nice to see anywhere….this side of Shrub and Frozen Puss.

  11. Derrick from Philly says

    “Shoulders in the night”

    Leland, I didn’t think you were old enough to remember Nancy Sinatra hits.

    When my Beloved President picked Rahm Emanual as his Chief of Staff, I knew that whatever dreams I had of “super” progressive action on social issues (full gay civil rights) wasn’t going to happen in a first term. The main focus of this first term is winning a second term.

    So, yeah, it’s still important for gay folks to keep the fire burning in back of His pretty brown booty, but there will be nothing very bold on domestic social issues in the near future.

    Every f…kin’ year, it’s delightful weather the week leading up to New York Pride, then on that Sunday of the Parade, it feels like 110 degrees with sweaty young homos everywhere. I’m too old and prissy for funk…Never again.

  12. Leland Frances says

    Nancy got her first pair of boots from me. Stole ’em actually. But I had better legs. And a bare midriff “Paul Newman Loves Billy Sive” t-shirt. Alas, that was before I discovered that what Phyllis Diller once said was true” “Middle-aged spread is not a cocktail dip.”

    Sooo true about “Oh Come, Oh Come [Unless You’re A Feygelah] Emmanuel.” No doubt he was advisor whispering the most poison in Bill’s ear [see “Stranger Among Friends” by David Mixner]. And now O has him on one side and Gomer Piles er James Jones, National Insecurity Advisor, on the other.

    Hopefully Bo will turn out to be gay and Sasha and Malia will get Daddy back on course.

  13. says

    Are we really using a comment on the NY TIMES website as a source that the Solicitor General of the United States is a lesbian?

    If she has a lesbian partner, what is her name?

    Do we not think that Senator Jeff Sessions will ask the nominee “Are you a practicing homosexual?”

    Is it really okay for a Supreme Court nominee to have a female partner and not expect that information to come out?

    If Kagan is a lesbian we should be celebrating the fact that a member of the LGBT community is one of the smartest lawyers-advocates in the country and Dean of Harvard Law School.

  14. Kugel says

    “The main focus of this first term is winning a second term.” In as much it is for every politician, but, really, stop being so hyperbolic.

    A lot has gone on in the first four or so months, mostly for the good. Obviously, he’s not moving quickly enough on LGBT issues for some here but:
    1) gay civil rights are not the only political issue in the world, and LGBT need health care, a robust economy and a clean environment, too.
    2) four months does not a complete first term make. Be vigilant, be alarmed, but is it really time to get bitter?

  15. Derrick from Philly says


    Thanks for the correct spelling of Emanuel’s name. I’m so lazy. I honestly believe that this President believes in full civil rights for American Gays, but gay marriage rights is still a powerful weapon the Republicans can use against the Democrats. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe that Eisenhower, Kennedy or Johnson ever took a firm stand on marriage rights for blacks and whites who wanted them. We had to wait for the federal courts to act. Obama will give us the kind of federal judges who will decide gay civil rights.


    I’m one of my Beloved President’s most ardent supporters on this blog. I’m not bitter, I’m just cynical when it comes to presidential politics. Even my beloved Jimmy Carter wasn’t no saint….until now.

  16. Derrick from Philly says

    “….blacks and whites who wanted them”

    I meant blacks and whites who wanted to marry each other. Back then, did any president open his mouth on that subject? Did any Hollywood movie star? No, not even Lana Turner when she was f….kin’ Joe Louis.

  17. nic says

    another potential nominee is carlos moreno who is the only dem on the california supreme court. he was appointed as u.s. district judge by clinton and subsequently nominated by gray davis to the ca supremes. he is the most liberal of the justices there.