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Lambda Legal Responds to U.S. Supreme Court Nomination

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Nominee would take seat once held by two of the Supreme Court's most outspoken defenders of individual rights.

In response to the nomination of Elena Kagan, U.S. Solicitor General, to the U.S. Supreme Court, Lambda Legal says it is pleased with the Obama Administration's efforts to increase the representation of women on the Court, and reissues its memorandum outlining its principles for selecting federal judges.

The New York City-born Kagan is a former Harvard Law School dean who, earlier in her career, served as law clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall. At Harvard, Kagan took a strong position in opposition to the military's policy of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and joined a brief arguing that military recruiters could be barred from campuses.

However, the Obama Administration has taken legal positions on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" with which Lambda Legal strongly disagrees.

"If Solicitor General Kagan is confirmed it would be the first time in history that the nation's highest Court would have three women on the bench," says Lambda Legal Executive Director Kevin Cathcart. "Her legal background and experience are impressive. She has been a trailblazer in her profession and a distinguished legal scholar for many years."

"While we don't expect a nominee to answer questions about how she would rule on specific issues that will come before her, we do expect that she will respond to questions about her judicial philosophy and her understanding of core constitutional principles of equal protection and privacy that are so crucial to the civil rights of people who face discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and/or HIV status."

Lambda Legal has identified principles for federal court nominations in a memo, including adherence to precedents established in cases of importance to the LGBT community and people living with HIV. Among those are decisions which safeguard the rights to liberty and privacy, protect against anti-gay and anti-transgender bias, preserve the right to sue in state courts under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and guard against HIV discrimination.

If confirmed, Kagan will take the seat successively held by two of the Supreme Court's most outspoken defenders of individual rights, Justice John Paul Stevens and, before him, Justice William O. Douglas. "We urge the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to look to those principles as they assess Solicitor General Kagan's qualifications to take the seat," Cathcart says.

Date:
May 10, 2010