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Pat Buchanan's long battle for a white Supreme Court justice

UPDATE: The Anti-Defamation League, knowing a softball when it comes across the plate, fires back at Buchanan. Statement below the fold.

Pat Buchanan's column on Elena Kagan is a pretty typical mix of bad faith and racial scare-mongering, but the tone is so strange that it's getting some pushback.

Buchanan writes, with a wink, that no Democratic president has elevated an African American to the court since 1965. (Democratic presidents have had only four nominees since then.) But "if Kagan is confirmed, Jews, who represent less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, will have 33 percent of the Supreme Court seats," he writes, adding, "Not in nearly half a century has a Democratic president nominated a white Protestant or white Catholic man or woman."

Let's put this in context.

Buchanan has been clamoring for more whites to get Supreme Court seats for four decades, and in 1971 he wrote this in a memo to President Richard Nixon.

Italian Americans, unlike blacks, have never had a Supreme Court member — they are deeply concerned with their “criminal” image; they do not dislike the President. Give those fellows the “Jewish seat” or the “black seat” on the Court when it becomes available.

The court now has two Italian American members, so Buchanan revisits his obsession to make a tiresome argument -- that Obama is passing over theoretically qualified white candidates and that, hint hint, this provides an opening for conservatives.

"Neither Obama nominee is academically distinguished," writes Buchanan of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, both of whom graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University.

Really, it's such a thin and weakly argued column, coming from such a place of bias, that I don't forsee many smart conservatives looking to it for advice on how to oppose Kagan.

And here's the ADL's statement:


New York, NY, May 15, 2010 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called Pat Buchanan “a recidivist anti-Semite who doesn’t miss an opportunity to show his fangs,” in response to remarks he made about the Jewish faith of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan and the religious makeup of the current court.

Buchanan wrote in his May 14 syndicated column, “If Kagan is confirmed, Jews, who represent less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, will have 33 percent of the Supreme Court seats. Is this the Democrats’ idea of diversity?”

Buchanan continued, “Not in living memory has a Democratic president nominated an Irish, Italian, or Polish Catholic … What happened to the party of the Daleys, Rizzos and Rostenkowskis?”

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:

Pat Buchanan is a recidivist anti-Semite who never misses an opportunity to show his fangs. His remarks about the Jewish background of Elena Kagan and the religious makeup of the Supreme Court are bigoted and unacceptable in a pluralistic society such as ours.

Kagan’s nomination for the Supreme Court should be considered on its merits. She is a highly qualified candidate for the judiciary, an exemplary Solicitor General and a great legal mind.

As the nomination process for Kagan moves forward, we hope that all Americans will reject appeals to bigotry and anti-Semitism.

Editors Note: Pat Buchanan’s history of anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and racist remarks is chronicled in “Pat Buchanan In His Own Words,” which is available on the League’s Web site at

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

By David Weigel  |  May 14, 2010; 3:48 PM ET
Categories:  Race , Supreme Court  
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