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Lawyers' Committee Releases Report Focusing on U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan's Civil Rights Record

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 13, 2010

CONTACT:
Stacie B. Royster
202-662-8317, office
sroyster@lawyerscommittee.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law released a report today detailing an in-depth analysis of Solicitor General Kagan's record on civil rights issues, particularly racial justice issues.  As an organization established by President John F. Kennedy to mobilize the private bar in the vigorous enforcement of the nation's civil rights laws, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law remains committed toward ensuring that the Supreme Court confirmation process include a focus on the vital importance of protecting civil rights laws and our constitutional values. 

"Solicitor General Kagan has an accomplished background and we applaud the President's nomination of such a qualified woman to the Supreme Court," said Lawyers' Committee Executive Director Barbara Arnwine.  "However, key questions remain regarding her civil rights record that we had hoped would be answered during the confirmation hearings, but were not completely.  Because the Lawyers' Committee's standard is based not only on a nominee's legal competency and qualifications for the Supreme Court, but also upon the nominee's civil rights record, we cannot take a position on General Kagan's nomination as we did Justice Sotomayor." 

Recognizing the US. Supreme Court's critical role in civil rights enforcement and the central role that civil rights enforcement plays in our democracy, the Lawyers' Committee has long reviewed the records of nominees to the Supreme Court to see if the nominee has demonstrated views that are hostile to the core civil rights principles for which the Lawyers' Committee has advocated.  Based on such a review, the Lawyers' Committee has opposed nominees in very few instances.  Beginning with its 2009 report on now-Justice Sotomayor, the Lawyers' Committee also undertook to consider whether to affirmatively support a nominee by evaluating whether the nominee's record demonstrates that the nominee possesses both the exceptional competence necessary to serve on the Court and a profound respect for the importance of protecting the civil rights afforded by the Constitution and the nation's civil rights laws.

"Given Justice Stevens's leadership in protecting and defending civil rights, it is particularly important that his successor continue this commitment to upholding the constitutional principles he set forth in civil rights cases.  It is the Lawyers' Committee's hope and expectation that General Kagan will in fact live up to our exacting standard on civil rights so that this Supreme Court will be a beacon of light in the quest to achieve racial justice and equal opportunity for all," Ms. Arnwine continued.

In addition to consulting a variety of sources concerning General Kagan's work in the Clinton Administration and her service as Dean of Harvard Law School, representatives of the Lawyers' Committee attended the hearings held by the Senate Judiciary Committee from June 28th to July 1st.  Specifically, the following documents were reviewed by the Lawyers' Committee's Supreme Court Task Force:

  • Kagan's legal writings, including her signed, published law journal articles and her unsigned student note published in the Harvard Law Review;
  • Briefs relating to civil rights issues that Kagan signed as Solicitor General, including briefs as amicus curiae;
  • Approximately 167,000 pages of documents, including emails, released by the William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum, all such documents which either were included in folders relating to civil rights issues or used terms relating to civil rights issues.

For a full copy of the report, please click here.

About the Lawyers' Committee
The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment discrimination, voting, education and environmental justice.  For more information about the LCCRUL, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

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