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Check Kagan record, Land urges senators

WASHINGTON (BP)–Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land urged Senate Judiciary Committee members to investigate Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s “very disconcerting” record in her confirmation hearing that began Monday.

Kagan’s hearing before the committee began on Associate Justice John Paul Stevens’ last day to sit on the high court while in session. President Obama selected Kagan, his solicitor general, to replace Stevens, who had served on the court since 1975. The justices issued their final opinions of the term Monday.

Conservatives, including pro-life advocates, have challenged the notion Kagan will not prove to be the liberal on social issues that Stevens was. In the days leading to the hearing, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the leading Republican on the Judiciary Committee, declined to rule out a GOP filibuster in an effort to block her confirmation.

In a letter to each of the committee’s 19 members, Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), stopped short of opposing Kagan’s confirmation. He called for a “no” vote, however, if some “troubling issues” were not resolved during the hearing.

Land named four issues in Kagan’s record that alarmed the ERLC:

— She has shown disdain for First Amendment rights.

— She has demonstrated a “lack of respect” for unborn babies.

— She has promoted the expansion of rights for homosexuals.

— She has displayed an admiration for activist judges.

“Kagan believes that speech may be regulated if the government’s motives are pure,” Land said in his June 25 letter. He cited her appearance as solicitor general before the high court last year in which she argued “the government has a right to limit interest group involvement in campaign finance.”

When she served as an adviser to President Clinton, Kagan “was instrumental in delaying enactment of a ban on the heinous practice of partial-birth abortion for several years,” encouraging him to back a “phony ban,” Land wrote. She also has criticized a federal law barring government funds for clinics that promote abortion as a method of family planning and supported the view that cloning of embryos for research is ethical, Land said.

As dean of the Harvard School of Law, Kagan kept military recruiters off campus because of her opposition to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy barring open homosexuals from serving in the armed services, Land told senators. He also described as “weak” her advocacy as solicitor general for the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that defines marriage in federal law as being between one man and one woman.

Kagan has described Aharon Barak, an Israeli Supreme Court justice, as her “judicial hero,” Land said. Barak is known “for his extreme views on judicial activism,” Land wrote.
Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press. The ERLC has an online fact sheet on Kagan at http://erlc.com/documents/pdf/20100626-kagan-erlc.pdf.