NEW YORK – President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, argued certain forms of speech that promote “racial or gender inequality” could be “disappeared.”
In her few academic papers, Kagan evidences strong beliefs for court intervention in speech, going so far as to posit First Amendment speech should be weighed against “societal costs.”
In her 1993 article “Regulation of Hate Speech and Pornography After R.A.V,” for the University of Chicago Law Review, Kagan writes:
“I take it as a given that we live in a society marred by racial and gender inequality, that certain forms of speech perpetuate and promote this inequality, and that the uncoerced disappearance of such speech would be cause for great elation.”
In a 1996 paper, “Private Speech, Public Purpose: The Role of Governmental Motive in First Amendment Doctrine,” Kagan argued it may be proper to suppress speech because it is offensive to society or to the government.
The paper asserted First Amendment doctrine is comprised of “motives and … actions infested with them” and she goes so far as to claim, “First Amendment law is best understood and most readily explained as a kind of motive-hunting.”
Kagan’s name was also on a brief, United States v. Stevens, dug up by the Washington Examiner, stating: “Whether a given category of speech enjoys First Amendment protection depends upon a categorical balancing of the value of the speech against its societal costs.”
Kagan’s academic writings are sparse – just nine articles, two of which are book reviews.
Her stand on free speech could become a hot button issue as the Senate confirmation hearings convene. If approved, Kagan would give the high court three women justices for the first time. She would be the youngest member on the current court and the first justice in nearly four decades without any prior judicial experience.
WND has reported that in her undergraduate thesis at Princeton, Kagan lamented the decline of socialism in the country as “sad” for those who still hope to “change America.”
WND also reported Kagan has advocated for an increased presidential role in regulation, which, she conceded, would make such affairs more and more an extension of the president’s own policy and political agenda.
Kagan was nominated as U.S. solicitor general by Obama in January and confirmed by the Senate in March. She was a dean of Harvard Law School and previously served alongside Obama as a professor of law at the University of Chicago.
A former clerk to Abner Mikva at the D.C. federal appeals court, Kagan was heavily involved in promoting the health-care policy of the Clinton administration.
Obama praised her because while he said a “judge’s job is to interpret the law, not make the law,” she has evidenced a “keen understanding of the impact of the law on people’s lives.”
The president said she has a “firm grasp on the nexus and boundaries between our three branches of government.”
But more importantly, she understands “behind the law there are stories, stories of people’s lives,” Obama said.
Kagan said the law is “endlessly interesting” and also “protects the most fundamental rights and freedoms.”
With research by Brenda J. Elliott.