Where does Elena Kagan - Supreme Court nominee - stand on the issues?

That's a difficult question to answer because Kagan has no record of jurisprudence and last appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee when nominated as US Solicitor General, a position advocating the interests of the United States. In her confirmation hearings Kagan successfully convinced the Senate she would support the government's position on any given case regardless of her personal beliefs about the issue being tried. As nominee for the US Supreme Court, Kagan espouses a constitutional interpretation that respects precedents and opposes judicial activism as a means of promoting social justice.

Some progressives are concerned that her beliefs are much more conservative than Justice Stevens' and that she will tilt the court farther to the right. Others cite her intellectual brilliance and strong record of consensus-building, which includes successfully reaching out to conservatives and resolving ideological conflicts.

According to bits and pieces gleaned from various relatively centrist sources, Kagan's stand on some of the issues are purportedly as follows:

  • Objects to the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy
  • As dean of Harvard Law School, attempted to have military recruiters banned from Harvard campus.
  • Supported "battlefield law," which would allow indefinite detention of terrorism suspects without benefit of trial
  • Believes the death penalty is constitutional
  • Disagrees with the use of judicial activism to create a more just society
  • On the few occasions she's discussed it, has supported the expansion of Executive (Presidential) power; however, NPR claims evidence suggests she is more opposed to enhanced Executive power than given credit for
  • During the Solicitor General confirmation process, answered a written question from the Senate Judiciary committee, "There is no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage."
  • In 1997, urged Clinton to ban late term abortions

Kagan has shown restraint in expressing personal opinions and has performed competently as Solicitor General, but her lack of judicial experience leaves many questions unanswered.