WHEN PRESIDENT Obama nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court Monday, conservative Christian groups were ready with press releases. “Kagan Considers Her Own Views More Important Than National Security,” warned Concerned Women for America. “Kagan’s Nomination A Triumph of Liberal Ideology, Judicial Activism,” trumpeted Focus on the Family’s political arm. According to the cryptically-named Center for Military Readiness, a group that opposes repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Kagan is an “Affront to the U.S. Military.”
This is not a column defending the Kagan nomination; I will leave that to my legal betters, some of whom are for and others of whom are against. It’s about the fundamental, verifiable issue of whether Christian groups lie when it serves their political interests—something that should seriously alarm honest Christians of all political persuations if it is the case. More often than not, as we learned when it came to Obama’s election and gay rights, it is.
To hear the Christian press releases tell it, the “liberals” have their dream nominee: a lesbian judicial activist who hates the military wants to push her progressive views in spite of the law. Liberals beg to differ: quite a few of them are upset that, because Kagan has a thin judicial record and has remained tight-lipped even around her closest friends, no one knows if she really has liberal views. She said she doesn’t believe there is a constitutional right to gay marriage. So great has been the liberal discontent over Kagan that it warranted a New York Times story headlined “Kagan Nomination Leaves Longing on the Left.”
So why is the Christian right in such hysterics? Let’s take their charges one at a time.
Kagan considers her own views more important than national security. The headline of Concerned Women for America’s press release was based on a quote from their CEO, Peggy Nance. It’s derived from the one thing we do know about Kagan’s views, which is that she opposed letting military recruiters on campus at Harvard Law because Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell violated the school’s anti-discrimation policy. Kagan believes DADT is discriminatory, but nothing in her statement even remotely suggests she is “anti-military” or does not understand the seriousness of national security. For this to be true, at least some bit of the national security of the United States must rest on whether or not the armed forces are allowed to recruit at Harvard Law school. It does not. Thus, Nance’s hysterical quip about Kagan’s “disdain for the military” is so blatantly invented that it cannot be called anything but a falsehood.
Kagan’s opposition to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is an affront to the military. This charge is essentially the same as the first, but claims that Kagan’s belief that DADT is discriminatory is a direct assault on what the military claims to be in its own best interest. The inconvenient detail is that both the Defense Secretary of the United States and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top military men in the country, agree with Kagan. General David Petraeus, the man in charge of both America’s wars, says “the time has come” to end DADT. Thus, the “Center for Military Readiness” cannot complain, with even a shred of credibility, that Kagan herself is an “affront to the military.”
Kagan has a liberal ideology. Liberals wish, but this cliché from Focus on the Family is nowhere in their release supported by facts. Kagan’s friends say they have no idea what she thinks about politics. (That in itself could be a problem, but we’re talking about what we know for certain.) When she was the dean of Harvard Law, she sat on the sidelines while her school led the legal charge against George W. Bush. She doesn’t believe gay marriage is a right. It is safe to assume she is a progressive, but there is no proof of her supposed “liberal ideology,” which, in characteristic fashion, Focus speculates to include “same-sex marriage for all 50 states” and “abortion on demand.” If there’s anything more speculative about the rumors surrounding Kagan’s sexuality, it’s these claims about her ideology. Nevertheless, CWA feels comfortable calling her an “extreme Leftist.” All this about an ideology that, keep in mind, is so proudly liberal that it’s driving most real liberals to say Obama is wasting his appointment.
Kagan is a judicial activist. Focus also claims in the very same breath that Kagan is a “judicial activist” and that she has never written a legal opinion, which is somewhat like accusing a basketball player who has never checked into a game of hogging the ball. It also doesn’t square very well with Kagan’s beliefs. Asked about judicial activism in her Solicitor General confirmation hearing, she said, “I think it is a great deal better for the elected branches to take the lead in creating a more just society than for courts to do so.”
We have seen this act so many times that it is beginning to look like exactly that—a ritual exercise in political spin that has nothing to do with the facts and certainly nothing to do with God. It is safe to say these groups would try to slap labels like “extreme Leftist” and “liberal ideology” on any nominee Obama chose for the court, much in the same way they dishonestly apply hyperbolic labels to the president himself. I don’t know about you, but I find this deeply disturbing coming from organizations that claim to be standing for the truth. They have forgotten God, and there should no longer be any doubt about their credibility as his spokespeople.
David Sessions is the founding editor of Patrol. He covers religion for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, and is a graduate student in the Draper Program for Humanities and Social Thought at New York University. He can be reached at hdavidsessions at gmail dot com.
- No public Twitter messages.
TagsAbortion Albert Mohler Andrew Sullivan Atheism Barack Obama Bible Book Review Books Catholic Church Christian Christianity Christianity Today Christian Right Conservatives Dinesh D'Souza Evangelicalism Evangelicals Facebook Faith Feminism God History Jesus Mark Driscoll Marriage Marvin Olasky Media New Sincerity New York City New York Times Patheos Philosophy Politics Quote of the Day Religion Religion and Spirituality Rick Perry Rob Bell Ross Douthat Same-sex marriage Sarah Palin Sex Theology United States Women