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Military members hit Kagan on recruiter ban

By Aaron Blake
A trio of military veterans on Thursday laid into Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's record on military recruiters while she was dean of Harvard's law school.

The veterans, testifying as witnesses for the minority at Kagan's hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Kagan's decision to bar recruiters from the law school's career services center spoke to a flaw in her character.

"How did we reach the point in this country where we're nominating someone who unapologetically impeded the military in this country?" asked Army National Guard Capt. Pete Hegseth, executive director of the veterans group Vets for Freedom.

Hegseth said he didn't begrudge Kagan her personal views, but called her "intellectually dishonest" for labeling "don't ask, don't tell" a military policy, when it was instituted by Congress.

Hegseth also fought back against a chief argument in defense of Kagan's military recruiter policy -- that the armed forces actually increased the number of recruits from Harvard Law School during her tenure.

"It increased in spite of Ms. Kagan; not because of her," said Hegseth, who is also a graduate student at Harvard.

Retired Air Force Col. Thomas N. Moe suggested Kagan has used her principles only when it suited her purposes.

"Her principles did not seem to come into play in 2007, when President Clinton -- a sponsor of 'don't ask, don't tell' -- spoke at Harvard's commencement," Moe said.

With Kagan wrapping up her testimony Wednesday, the committee on Thursday began hearing from witnesses called by each party to lobby for or against Kagan.

Republican attacks on Kagan have largely centered on Kagan's ban on military recruiters. All three witnesses called by the minority party on the first panel Thursday were veterans critical of Kagan's military recruiter ban.

Kagan has defended herself by pointing out that recruiters could still work through veterans groups on campus.

Retired Army Capt. Flagg Youngblood said Kagan's policy amounted to "separate but equal."

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) engaged the veterans and defended Kagan's intentions, saying she is not antimilitary.

"It was a matter of conscience for her to speak out. I respect that," Durbin said. "She might have done it differently; we all might do things a little differently."

By Aaron Blake  |  July 1, 2010; 5:18 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Comments

Whatever your take on the underlying issue, it's appalling to me that this post cites only the three veterans who testified against General Kagan, and ignores the veteran who testified for her (who was also the only one of the military witnesses who attended HLS while Dean Kagan was there).

Posted by: jody346 | July 6, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

It seems we have a lot of 60's draft dodgers posting here. How sad that so many that feel guilty for not serving have so much animus toward the military. Remember Bill "loathing" the military? Remember Kerry's testimony? Remember Gore's lies? The Military are the LAST ones who want war but consistently protect us when needed. What is wrong with you who continue to insult those who protect your right to say what you want and live the way you want. I find you disgusting!

Posted by: vitaglubet | July 2, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Kagan was prescient, and in line with what the Supreme Court ruled last week in Christian Legol Society v. Martinez (2010 WL 2555187). Christian Legal Society was not prohibited from meeting on campus, they were just not allowed to use the full benefits associated with officially sanctioned student groups that conformed with the college's anti-discrimination policy. In the same way, military recruiters were not barred from campus at Harvard, they could just not use the officially sponsored and sanctioned mechanisms that were otherwise allowed for recruiters that conformed with Harvard's anti-discrimination policy. Harvard and UC-Hastings Law school were not anti-military or anti-religious, they were anti-discrimination, and they chose to not make special exemptions for military or religious organizations until the supreme court ruled.

Posted by: philipme | July 2, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

As my id indicates, I am a former military member. I'm not posting because of the Harvard flap. That was settled by the courts. In the end, Obama has nominated someone for the supreme court with less experience for that job than he had for the presidency and you see what we have there. Hopefully, enough senators will consider that to be reason to vote no on her confirmation.

Posted by: gfafblifr | July 2, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

As a veteran, including combat, I don't see the big deal about not allowing military recruiters on a school campus. Schools at any level. The student body is perfectly free to find their way to a recruiting office in the community, just as I did. The military, over the past 10 years has become much to politically involved and has given way to a religious bent. Our military should drop their "Crusaders" mentality.

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Posted by: tradeshoes41 | July 2, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

All of these comment sections turn into a bunch of right vs. left polemics, but there are some serious issues which have been ably raised by Sen. Sessions. And I say this as a liberal-moderate Democrat.

Quoting from Amy Goldstein's excellent article in the WaPo of May 28:

"A coalition of law schools, not including Harvard, had filed suit [against the Solomon Amendment]. In November 2004, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit said the law linking federal aid to recruiting help was unconstitutional. Kagan announced that Harvard would no longer provide such help.

"Boston College law professor Kent Greenfield, who founded the law school coalition, which ultimately lost its case at the Supreme Court, said he thinks that Harvard was the only school that stopped welcoming recruiters right after the 3rd Circuit ruling, although no one kept complete track."

Without going into all of the nuances--such as the fact that she changed the policy without getting the approval or knowledge of DOD which had (during the tenure of Kagan's predecessor as dean) forced Harvard to give equal access to recruiters in the first place-- this all raises the question:

WHAT WAS KAGAN THINKING?

Posted by: shovetheplanet | July 2, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Dear Sirs,
A president, of COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, wrote many books.
Among them, he mentioned prisoners.
On page 386, of CRUSADE IN EUROPE, he asked "Why didn't some staff college ever tell us what to do with a quarter of a million prisoners so located at the end of a rickety railroad that it's impossible to move them and where guarding and feeding them are so difficult?"
The author was Dwight David Eisenhower!
Was he anti-military?
Was he "soft" on terrorism?
What does that trio think of him?
Clifford Spencer

Posted by: yankeefan1925 | July 2, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

JUST LIKE Owe-BAMA


Psuedo-intellectual at the public teat. With their kind, the USA would have surrendered to Hitler and Tojo.

The COMMIE-DUPES (D) blocked other nominations for years.

Give this joker the same treatment. After Nov. 2 -- OWE-bama won't have enough support to get anything approved.

Posted by: russpoter | July 2, 2010 5:25 AM | Report abuse

hey military men


the road to where we are now was taken when we went down the path to a volunteer army.

Take a look at what you have today: a private company named backwater providing perimeter security for our embassies and command sits in the theater of war.

how debliltated is that for a militry that postures itself as the best in the world

get real.

The military bit by bit was bought off and look at what we have today: an endless war, private mercenaries at high salaries and an economy that has suffered gratly from a strategy of using the military to boost employment figures.

way to soldier way to go.

Of course Kagan took an untenable position but that is why minorites are being used to divert attention from the real issue.

Posted by: JohnAdams1 | July 2, 2010 5:04 AM | Report abuse

hey military men


the road to where we are now was taken when we went down the path to a volunteer army.

Take a look at what you have today: a private company named backwater providing perimeter security for our embassies and command sits in the theater of war.

how debliltated is that for a militry that postures itself as the best in the world

get real.

The military bit by bit was bought off and look at what we have today: an endless war, private mercenaries at high salaries and an economy that has suffered gratly from a strategy of using the military to boost employment figures.

way to soldier way to go.

Of course Kagan took an untenable position but that is why minorites are being used to divert attention from the real issue.

Posted by: JohnAdams1 | July 2, 2010 5:03 AM | Report abuse

Based on what I have read and know, Elena Kagan has testified truthfully. Those who are attacking her have a political ax to grind, and it shows. As Dean of the Law School, Ms. Kagan was obviously not the President of Harvard. Her actions should not be viewed within a vacuum. Either she acted within written or accepted policy at Harvard or she did not. If she did not, then call someone who was her superior at Harvard to testify to this fact.

What we have are those who attack Ms. Kagan without merit while dismissing the "ant" comment by Boehner, the irrational and obtuse questionning by Jeff Sessions, and on and on. Republicans have no shame.

I understand that one even asked her what she did on Christmas Day. Is this a "relevant" question to ask a Jewish lady or anyone else?

Posted by: EarlC | July 2, 2010 12:23 AM | Report abuse

Pete Hegseth is a neocon he is the future of people like Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and their "friends" he will never be a grown up like they ate but he makes a great front man for them now and they will use him to the best advantange, especially after they found out using Geneal Boykin of the "Christian crusades" was disinvited to testify at the Kagan hearing so lose one giant nut job and replace with a "little nut job" I bet Hegseth thought he was sinvited because he was the best person for the job, nope he could just pass the "smell test"

Posted by: mikey30919 | July 1, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Get over yourselves. The military is not the sacred cow that many of its members seem to think it is.
---------

Amen.

Posted by: itsagreatday1

Sure beats being a PO S liberal.

Posted by: cschotta1 | July 1, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

On the grand scale of things, Kagan's principled stand to uphold Harvard's anti-discrimination policy is FAR more moral than having a soldier use their military title when engaging in a partisan political attack.

Posted by: kcx7

Unless that soldier engages in a partisan political attack on Bush, eh lib?

LIBERALISM.......AMERICA'S WEAKEST LINK

Posted by: cschotta1 | July 1, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

The law of the land is for you pinheads that have nothing better to do than post little ideas online. Eat your brats and drink your beer this weekend, and let the smart folk run things as they see fit.

Posted by: JohnnyGee | July 1, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

So military people, who, by law and regulation are prohibited from public political advocacy, feel that it is utterly unimportant to uphold the sacred tradition of keeping the military out of politics?

On the grand scale of things, Kagan's principled stand to uphold Harvard's anti-discrimination policy is FAR more moral than having a soldier use their military title when engaging in a partisan political attack.

Posted by: kcx7 | July 1, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Get over yourselves. The military is not the sacred cow that many of its members seem to think it is.
---------

Amen.

Posted by: itsagreatday1 | July 1, 2010 7:39 PM
++++

Mr. President, don't you have anything important to do than post here?

Posted by: jamespmarion | July 1, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Kagan is anti military just like her nominator. In fact she's a clone of Obama's.

Posted by: jamespmarion | July 1, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Get over yourselves. The military is not the sacred cow that many of its members seem to think it is.
---------

Amen.

Posted by: itsagreatday1 | July 1, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

You can tell the importance of the ABA's role in Kagan's evaluation. The Judiciary Committee put them after two other citizen panels almost at 7pm on last day of hearings. Even Dems haven't cited their rating of Kagan as having any import.

Posted by: philpost1 | July 1, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

She gets away with her lies because she can.... Hopefully we have enough smart senators who understand the 'politics' and say no to her lack of credentials and move forward to a different nominee.

Posted by: imaginemore | July 1, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse


"If Elena Kagan's ban of recruiters weakened the U.S military, so much the better."

Your Typical Leftist

Posted by: screwjob16 | July 1, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Blah blah blah it was at Harvard not some Community College. Wake-up to reality.

Posted by: whocares666 | July 1, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

my understanding is that Kagan's role had more to do with the institution that she lead - and, with its peers, had been on record against this policy well before Kagan ever showed up there.
There's a hyporcisy here - Bush/Cheney put all sorts of obsticles in the way of the 9/11 Commission - ostensibly not because they had something to hide, but because they were, in their eyes, protecting the office of the Presidency. Yet when someone else has the same sense of purpose toward their office - and had the court fight to show for it too - these guys are saying that it's a matter of a "flaw in character". Get over yourselves. The military is not the sacred cow that many of its members seem to think it is.

Posted by: hohandy | July 1, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

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