Is That What We Need -- A Collaborative Justice?

05/11/2010 12:40 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Kathleen Reardon Professor Emerita, USC Marshall School; Author, 'The Secret Handshake' and 'Shadow Campus'

What's all this talk about Elena Kagan being able to bring people of different mindsets together? That's lovely. Really, it is. And it's a skill -- usually one we attribute to women so people won't be afraid of them. But is it what we truly want from our next Supreme Court Justice? Is that what mattered when Justices Scalia, Roberts and Thomas were nominated?

What the Court needs right now is someone who will fight for the rights of people who aren't part of the upper crust. What we need to hear is that Elena Kagan knows how to stand firm and doesn't think that compromise is the only way out of disagreement or that making the other side happy no matter how closed minded and belligerent they are is somehow admirable. We've had enough of that lately.

Let's hear that she's fully aware that at times there's simply the right way and the wrong way according to our Constitution, that she has some very strong views about this that favor civil liberties, and while she'll listen carefully to opposing perspectives she can ably defend her decisions with extraordinary intensity and persuasiveness.

Let's hear about the times when she took on injustice and wrestled it to the ground. Spare us the nice stories about someone who has just been nominated to serve on this country's judicial front lines. This isn't a social she's planning to attend. Sure, Kagan is a woman and so it's comforting for some to know that she gets along with people. But let's get real here. Sometimes you have to wonder whether anyone in the White House is thinking straight.

Dr. Reardon also blogs at bardscove.

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