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Kagan Scrutinized for Confirmation This Week as Black Support Grows

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By Hazel Trice Edney, NNPA Editor-in-Chief –

WASHINGTON (NNPA) - Former Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan, President Obama’s pick for the U. S. Supreme Court, has gained more Black civil rights support as she goes before the U. S. Senate Judiciary Committee this week.

Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, who said in May that the LCCR would await decisions from more of its some 200 organizational members before it announces a formal endorsement, has released an updated statement announcing the organization’s endorsement of Kagan.

“The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights today announces its support for the nomination of Elena Kagan to be Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court and urges her speedy confirmation.

"In every step of her career, Elena Kagan has highly distinguished herself through her outstanding intellectual credentials, her independence of thought, and her strong respect for the rule of law. She is fully qualified and ready to serve on the Supreme Court,” Henderson said in the statement.

This adds to a significant list of civil rights organizations, which have chosen to back Kagan, despite deep concerns that Obama failed to continue diversifying the court by nominating a Black woman. The NAACP also endorsed Kagan while the Black Women’s Roundtable, led by Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civil Participation, expressed strong disappointment that the court still has no Black female justice.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund also came out in support of Kagan last week despite some reservations.

The NAACP-LDF released a report last week stating, “Notwithstanding some concerns detailed in this report, LDF supports Elena Kagan’s nomination to be the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Our review of her record leads us to conclude that she has the professional credentials, respect for the institutional roles of all three branches of federal government, intellect and independence of mind, ability to build consensus, and commitment to justice required of one who would serve in this critical role.”

The National Bar Association, representing 44,000 lawyers, judges, law professors and law students in 80 affiliate chapters in the U. S. and around the world, had also recommended a Black woman appointee. NBA President Mavis T. Thompson said the organization hopes to eventually support Kagan, but would wait to learn “more about the nominee's sensitivity to issues of race, gender, class discrimination and to affording equal opportunity to all segments of our society.”

The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has also withheld support of Kagan, noting questions that still remain on her protection and defense of civil rights while the National Urban League this week announced support of Kagan.

Meanwhile, Kagan will be questioned intensely this week by members of the majority Democratic Judiciary Committee, who will decide her fitness as an associate justice for the Supreme Court to replace long-serving Associate Justice John Paul Stevens. Predictably, Republicans have threatened a possible filibuster if the nomination advances to the entire Senate for vote. They say she is too liberal and has never been a judge. She is ultimately expected to survive all challenges.

Henderson and the LCCR are apparently poised to battle on her behalf:

“We also urge Senators not to be swayed by a small number of ideological extremists who have been grasping at straws to characterize her as having an ideological agenda,” he said in his statement. “While the Senate should thoroughly explore her views, it is abundantly clear to us that Elena Kagan is a consensus-builder who will play an important role in healing a fractured Court and in protecting the rights of all Americans.”

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