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Connect with WMC for the Latest on Elena Kagan

June 30, 2010

Stick with the Women's Media Center this week as we track coverage of Solicitor General Elena Kagan's Supreme Court hearing and the subsequent dialogue. v37 Media coverage has been unusually spare this week, giving some indication that Kagan is not sufficiently inflammatory for either party to worry over. Fox News, however, in its continued vendetta against strong female Supreme Court Justice nominees (see our coverage of Sonya Sotomayor's treatment), managed to make some spurious claims about Solicitor General Elena Kagan's record on reproductive rights. Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly falsely claimed that she advised President Clinton to endorse policy that would allow a woman to "get an abortion in the third trimester" because of "a headache." Media Matters points out that Kagan actually endorsed banning late-term abortions that "included a much narrower health exception." On another front, USA Today is covering some of the nonsense that's come up in the hearing, like Senator Amy Klobuchar's (D-MN) question about Kagan's position on the recently released film Twilight. In the midst of all these distractions, the Media Consortium is offering an analysis of Kagan's stance on issues, which is a refreshing. Things became decidedly heated at times in the Judicial Committee hearing yesterday. There was some venom in Senator Jeff Sessions' (R-AL) opening remarks, in which he referred to her as "Ms. Kagan" and "Dean Kagan," eschewing her well-earned title of Solicitor General. His following interrogation, in which he repeatedly disrupted Kagan, and later interviews in the press indicate a distaste for the nominee that is particularly pointed. While a professed supporter of Kagan's nomination, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) asked for clarification on Kagan's position regarding abortion. Citing a 2007 Supreme Court case, Senator Feinstein asked if Kagan would consider "the health of the mother" when determining future abortion legislation. Kagan's positive response, while guarded gave some indication that she will be an advocate for a woman's right to choose. As yesterday's 10 hours of questioning progressed, things eased up. Kagan and the Judiciary Committee laughed over her cracks about Chinese food on Christmas, getting her hair done and even previous assertions she has made. Senator Arlen Spector (D-PA) congratulated her on her attitude. "You have shown a real admirable sense of humor and I think that's really important. ... We are looking for somebody who could moderate the court, and a little humor would do a lot of good," he said. Succeeding Justice John Paul Stevens, Kagan, if nominated, would become only the fourth woman to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court and the eighth Jewish justice in its history. While significant distinctions, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) introduced Solicitor General Kagan by praising her for being the kind of nominee who will not bring her gender or religion to bear. "I always remember what Justice Potter Stewart said about what makes a first rate judge. He said, 'The mark of a good judge is a judge whose opinion you can read and . . . have no idea if the judge was a man or woman, Republican or Democrat, a Christian or Jew . . . You just know he or she was a good judge.' I believe Elena Kagan will meet that standard," Kerry said. The ongoing discussion about Kagan's gender continues today in the Washington Post. Columnist Eva Rodriguez asks whether Senator Feinstein should have spent "a significant chunk of her time this afternoon praising Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan as a role model for young women?" She asks, weren't there "more important things to discuss?" What do you think? Does Elena Kagan's gender or religion matter? Join the conversation! Talk to us through our Twitter feed and Facebook, or report to us through Sexism Watch. We at the WMC continues to support strong female candidates in their struggle for fair representation in the media. Stay tuned for updates!

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