The National Organization for Women applauds President Barack Obama’s decision to nominate a woman to follow Justice John Paul Stevens on the U.S. Supreme Court. Upon confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Solicitor General Elena Kagan would join Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor to become the third woman currently sitting on the Supreme Court — a historic achievement.
“Women have been under-represented on the Supreme Court for far too long,” said NOW President Terry O’Neill. “When Justice Stevens announced his upcoming retirement, NOW called on President Obama to nominate a woman to increase women’s representation to an all-time high of one-third. We are pleased that the president heard us and apparently agrees that it is about time for women to make up a critical mass on the Supreme Court.”
As the first woman to serve as U.S. solicitor general and the first female dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan is eminently qualified. She was a law clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall and has argued six cases before the current justices.
“While we are pleased to see the second woman in a row nominated to the court, gender alone is not enough,” said O’Neill. “Justice Stevens was a clear champion of social justice, who will leave behind a proud liberal legacy. We are eager to learn that Elena Kagan, too, will stand for equality and fairness across the board.”
Encouragingly, Kagan has expressed clear opposition to the discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that has forced out thousands of lesbian and gay service members from the military. However, having never served as a judge herself, it is unclear where Kagan stands on most of NOW’s key issues.
“NOW will closely monitor the confirmation process,” promised O’Neill. “We will listen carefully to Elena Kagan’s answers, to determine if she will be a defender of the rights of women, racial minorities, the poor and other oppressed groups. And we will follow the comments of the senators and the media, as both have a history of sexist treatment of women nominees. As Elena Kagan prepares to add another crack to the marble ceiling, we hope to see that stereotyped attitudes, at long last, are history.”