BREAKING: Obama Nominates Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court


BREAKING: Obama is going to nominate Elena Kagan for the position of Supreme Court Justice of the United States. The story broke at NBC at approximately 10:35 PM EST. If confirmed, she will be the fourth female justice, and the first potential semi-closeted lesbian. She is the only frontrunner among the nominees who has not previously served as a judge, but she was Dean of Harvard Law for six years. While her politics are generally considered liberal, some liberals say she comes down closer to the conservative side on issues of executive power and treatment of military detainees. She did anger conservatives, however, when she argued to turn away military recruiters from college campuses because of the military’s discriminatory DADT policy. (@msnbc)

Elena Kagan was apparently in the running for a SCOTUS position last year, but Sonia Sotomayor was nominated instead. The two women have a certain amount in common, and Sotomayor’s reception by the right wing and the American public is like a preview of how this confirmation process will likely turn out. Sotomayor was reviled by conservatives and criticized for a perceived inability to remain “neutral” as a Supreme Court Justice because of her Latina identity (because, of course, the only background that allows you to be “neutral” on important issues is that of a straight white man).

It’s likely that a similar controversy will arise here, especially with the appeal of the Proposition 8 ruling on the horizon. Prop 8 — and therefore to a certain extent the ability of the government to deny us equal rights — is going to go on trial in the Supreme Court, and the big question is whether a (possible) lesbian might be sitting on the bench when that happens. Judge Walker, the original California judge of the recent Prop 8 trial, is himself gay; it’s a peculiar and bittersweet moment in American history when the country still has the opportunity to rule on whether or not our familes are valid, but at least two of the people vested with the power to make that decision are (maybe!) gay.

It’s also worth wondering what this move says about Obama — he hasn’t repealed DADT, but he’s nominating a (possibly gay) woman who has adamantly opposed it for years. It’s unlikely that Kagan herself will have the opportunity to take any action against DADT, but it says something about Obama’s commitment that he’s chosen someone with such a strong history of supporting the GLBT community as his Supreme Court Justice legacy.

There are a lot of ways a President can impact the country in the long term, and choosing Supreme Court Justices is a really important one. If Kagan manages to get confirmed, she’ll be on the bench ruling on every piece of legislation that might possibly affect gay families for the rest of her life, even if Sarah Palin is our next president. This is a really admirable decision on Obama’s part, and I suspect it’s about to be a really un-admirable time for the right wing and religious conservatives of this country. Let the name-calling begin!

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. Wow! A maybe semi-closeted lesbian? I’m excited and also cringing in advance for the coverage of the confirmation hearings. Who will say what incredibly offensive things? Scalia must be raging.

  2. Yeah, this is great news, but as usual talk of her sexuality is apparently more precedent to the general population than her credentials. Its sad to see the right wingers throwing around things like “man or woman?” etc.

    I cannot believe we share the same oxygen sometimes. /sigh

    • I know right, it makes it especially difficult for us, since like, that is our job at a lesbian website to discuss people who are probs lesbians. but then, do we want to add more fuel to the lesbian fire, which is already burning too brightly?

      honestly i feel like… it’s gonna come out. i mean some right-winger is going to send someone literally to her home to see who lives in it. we’re going to find out before the confirmation happens if it happens. and i just hope that the way this is handled is not totally totally disgusting and that if the conservatives really get their panties in a bunch over this, that it will make them look really bad and really crazy and then lesbians can take over the world!

      • If there’s some evidence or proof or what have you that surfaces, I think this will actually make the confirmation proceedings easier.

        She doesn’t have much of a record and having already been confirmed as solicitor general, it is not a particularly hard confirmation fight. For most senators, not confirming her based on weak reasoning is too likely to be seen as not confirming her because she is gay. Even in homophobic America, this is not a political winner – even for candidates with a strong Republican base.

        But maybe I’m too optimistic.

        • I didn’t hear the news until I was driving and listening to the radio this am and the morning show people were wondering why “the guy from King of Queens” was making news. The joking continued a bit until they all were like, oh, she’s qualified, and all that, so we really shouldn’t be saying anything about her looks. Argh.

      • yeah its fine if we discuss probz lesbos because we arent doing it to cause some sort of “negative” reaction (atleast within this readership). the only reason this is still news is because unfortunately a lot of people still see it as a problem. if we were a site that was dedicated to people who LOVE frosted flakes and find out elena kagan very likely LOVES frosted flakes, no one gives a shit.

        ..btw i love frosted flakes.

  3. “because, of course, the only background that allows you to be “neutral” on important issues is that of a straight white man”

    Brilliant. I’ve been saying this same thing for YEARS and no one gets it…mainly because the demographic I was attempting to enlighten were frat guys. c’est la vie.

    I am hoping beyond hope that this woman gets nominated, because possible lesbian or not, she is clearly on our side!

  4. Was so excited to hear this. I just hope that her sexuality isn’t the big smoking gun everyone is letting on. Would be great to see another woman on the Bench.

  5. Wow, actually exciting news to wake up to! At this point, I honestly don’t care what her sexuality is (she could firmly support the union of one fish and one woman and I wouldn’t care), but the fact that her record and views are so GLBTerrific has me bouncing in my bed quite literally.

  6. It’s good to read some of the positive views and perspectives on the potential Elena Kagan nomination here at Autostraddle. i myself posted an article on it in the wee hours of the morning after pouring over her long record, the literally thousands of comments over at the Huffington post, NPR, and others. i am a lover of the Bill of Rights and am still studying the voluminous amount of material out there. So glad that at least Elena Kagan seems sensitive to gender based discrimination. Please fee free to stop by and leave your comments on my blog. There is a link to your blog on mine.

  7. After decades of being depressed as our civil liberties were eroded by nominees from Nixon, Ford, Regan, G.H.W.Bush and George Bush, the prospect of another nominee who does NOT advocate a police-state and tyranny is refreshing. i had become quite disheartened with the justces like Alito, Thomas, Scalia chomping at the bit to trample our rights. I hope enough people will let our Senators know that we care about fundamental rights for everyone without discrimination.

  8. I’m so excited for this nomination, and overall so proud of our president. I’m going to sum up my feelings for Obama in the words of Stephen Colbert:

    “President Obama – great president, or GREATEST president?”

  9. Kagan: “There is no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage.”

    I’m thinking this isn’t a good nomination for our side.

Comments are closed.