Elena Kagan and the Supreme Court: A Barnyard Smell in Chicago, Harvard and Washington

President Obama has nominated Elena Kagan for Justice of the United States Supreme Court on the basis of an academic publication record, which might give her a fighting chance for tenure at a first rate correspondence law school in the Texas Panhandle.

A review of her published scholarship after almost two decades in and out of academia turns up four law review articles, two brief pieces and several book reviews and in memoriam. There is nothing even remotely resembling a major legal text or research publication.

Her lack-luster academic publication record is only surpassed by her total lack of any practical experience as a judge: zero years in adjudication, unless one accepts the line of her exuberant advocates, who point to Kagan’s superb ability in adjudicating among the squabbling faculty at Harvard Law School when she served as Dean. No doubt Kagan had been very busy as the greatest fundraising Law School Dean in Harvard’s history ($400 million), which may account for the fact that she never found time to write a single academic article during her nine year tenure (2001-2009).

The criteria for her appointment to the Supreme Court have little to do with academic performance as it is understood today in all major universities. Nor does her total inexperience as a judicial advocate compensate for academic mediocrity.

The evidence points to a purely political appointment based, in part, on social networks and certainly not on her lack of affinity for the agenda of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Kagan’s approval of indefinite detention of suspects squares with the extremist restrictions on constitutional freedoms first articulated during the Bush Administration and subsequently upheld by President Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder. It is no coincidence that Kagan appointed a notorious Bush torture advocate, the genial Jack Goldsmith, to the Harvard Law faculty.

Elena Kagan’s appointment certainly was not based on “diversity“. She will be the third Jew on the Supreme Court and, together with the six Roman Catholics, will decide the most critical cases with far-reaching and profound impact on citizens’ rights and protections. For the first time in US history the nation’s largest demographic group, the Protestants (of any hue or gender), will have no representative on the Court, thereby excluding the descendents, like retiring Justice Stevens, of the brilliant, strongly secular judicial heritage that formulated the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights and its amendments.

Kagan’s nomination to the US Supreme Court is not exceptional if we consider many of Bush and now Obama’s choices of advisers and officials in top policymaking posts. Many of these officials combined their diplomas from Ivy League universities with their absolutely disastrous performances in public office, which no amount of mass media puff pieces could obscure. These Ivy League mediocrities include the foreign policy advocates for the destructive and unending wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan and the leading economic advisers and officials responsible for the current financial debacles. The names are familiar enough: Wolfowitz, Feith, Abrams, Levey, Greenspan, Axelrod, Emmanuel, Indyk, Ross, Summers, Rubin, et al.: Prestigious credentials with mediocre, or worse, performances. What is the basis of their rise? What explains their ascent to the most influential positions in the US power structure?

One hypothesis is nepotism … of a certain kind. Elena Kagan got tenure at the august halls of the University of Chicago in 1995 on the basis of one substantive article and one brief piece, neither outstanding. With this underwhelming record of legal scholarship, she became visiting professorship at the Harvard Law School, published only two more articles (one in Harvard Law Review) and received tenure. Prima facie evidence strongly suggests that Kagan’s ties to the staunchly Zionist faculty at both Chicago and Harvard Law Schools (and not her intellectual prowess) account for her meteoric promotions to tenure, deanship and now the US Supreme Court, over the heads of hundreds of other highly qualified candidates with far superior academic publication records and broader practical judicial experience.

The public utterances and political writings of innumerable Harvard, Princeton, Chicago, Yale, John Hopkins professors, whether it be on the speculative economy, Israel’s Middle East wars, preventative detention, broad presidential powers and constitutional freedoms are marked by a singular mediocrity, mendacity and an excess of hot air reeking of the barnyard.

If you do not qualify on the basis of excellent scholarship or broad-based practical experience, your ethnic tribesman will wax ecstatic over you as a “wonder colleague”, a “superb teacher”, a “brilliant consensus builder” and a “world champion fund raiser”. In other words, if you have the right ethnic connections and political ambitions, they can adjust the criteria for tenure at the University of Chicago, the deanship at Harvard Law School and a lifetime appointment to the US Supreme Court.

Elena Kagan joins a long list of key Obama appointees who have long-standing ties to the pro-Israel power configuration. Like Barack Obama, Elena Kagan started her legal apprenticeship with the Chicago Judge, Abner Mitva, an ardent Zionist, who hailed the newly elected President Obama as “America’s first Jewish President”, probably his soundest judgment.

The issue of the composition of the US Supreme Court is increasingly crucial for all Americans, who are horrified by Israel’s devastation of Gaza, its threats to launch a nuclear attack on Iran and its Fifth Column’s efforts to drag us into a third war in ten years. With the Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations pressing the compliant US Congress to declare “anti-Zionism” as a form of “anti-Semitism” and “opposition to Israel’s policies” as amounting to “support for terrorism”, thus criminalizing Americans critical of Israel, another active pro-Zionist advocate on the Court will provide a legal cover for the advance of Zionist-dictated authoritarianism over the American people.

Yes, Kagan would be another woman on the Supreme Court. Yes, she would probably adjudicate conflicts among the judges and strengthen Obama’s police powers. And, yes, she would likely favor your indefinite detention if you support the right of Palestinians to struggle (“terrorism”) against the Israeli occupation … especially if you defend America against Israel’s Fifth Column.

But remember when you apply for Ivy League law school appointment or a top judicial post and your CV lacks the requisite publications or work experience, just ask Judge Abner Mikva or Larry Summers or Rahm Emmanuel for a recommendation. With such support you will shoot ahead of the competition… because you have the right ethnic connections.

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). Petras’ most recent books are The Politics of Empire: The Us, Israel and the Middle East (2014) and The Arab Revolt and the Imperialist Counterattack. He can be reached at: jpetras@binghamton.edu. Read other articles by James, or visit James's website.

12 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. hayate said on May 13th, 2010 at 8:08am #

    Another fascist israeli on the supreme court, just what the usa needs right now.

    Why not drop the pretense and just change the country’s name to the Colonial States of Israel and move the capital to tel aviv?

  2. hayate said on May 13th, 2010 at 9:45am #

    Compare the info Petras provided with that in this democracy now debate:

    Progressives Divided over Obama’s Nomination of Elena Kagan to Supreme Court http://www.democracynow.org/2010/5/10/progressives_divided_over_obamas_nomination_of

    Most of that was about her lack of a written record. Very little said of what she’s done. I generally like Greenwald, but he was wasted here because it was a debate with a piece of rubbish that just spouted propaganda. it would have been better to have examined kagan’s history in some real depth instead. That will more than certainly show her up as the zionist fascist she is. They only barely just touched on that at the very end as they were shutting the segment down. See the thing is Progressives ARE NOT Divided over Obama’s Nomination of Elena Kagan to Supreme Court, it’s the zionists want people to think this cheesy fascist has some progressive support so they can peddle her apointment better to progressives and liberals.

    Democracy now could have provided an in depth bio on kagan, but instead, they put on a tedious debate that provided almost no usable info at all.

  3. hayate said on May 13th, 2010 at 11:38am #

    Here we go:

    Right Wing Talking Points
    Jesus for the Supreme Court?

    By BRIAN J. FOLEY

    http://www.counterpunch.org/foley05132010.html

    This is a good example of zionist fascism being stealthily masqueraded as an anti-right-wing progressive pov. The zionist will be using every cheesy trick in the book to promote this ziofascist. Expect the same sort of rubbish they used to promote obama as a liberal and progressive. Like “obama’s black, he’s got to be a progressive” converted to “kagan’s a woman, a lesbian and Jewish, how could she not be a progressive?”

    I’m actually rather surprised at Counterpunch publishing that sleazy zionist propaganda. They usually above that sort of slippery rubbish. They were one of the few progressive sites that did not adopt the ziofascist line and back that phoney cia/mossad green “color revolution” in Iran and published material showing it as the fraud it was.

  4. JE said on May 13th, 2010 at 3:12pm #

    Nice to see someone call out the Jewish Community on their blatant nepotism…

  5. bjfolz said on May 13th, 2010 at 8:31pm #

    JE, Did you read the piece? The piece makes fun of the right wing response to Obama SCOTUS nominations. How you get “zionist propaganda” is simply beyond the beyond. It sounds like you need to take a break and laugh a little.

  6. Deadbeat said on May 13th, 2010 at 8:49pm #

    Democracy now could have provided an in depth bio on kagan, but instead, they put on a tedious debate that provided almost no usable info at all.

    DN! cannot break away from Chomskyism. In fact it is one of its biggest promoters.

  7. Mulga Mumblebrain said on May 14th, 2010 at 2:33am #

    I read some time ago that a survey of US public opinion found that the average estimation by that public of the proportion of Jews in the US population was 43%. I know that the ‘great, unwashed’ US public is notoriously ignorant, but doesn’t that tell you something about Jewish dominance? When faced with clear evidence of Jewish collaboration in seizing control of the apparatus of power in Western countries, aided and abetted by their ‘House Negro’ Sabbat Goy Obummer, who was cultivated by Zionists for years and who is loyally repaying that patronage (as he must if he wishes to see his grandchildren), the Zionists usually screech ‘anti-semite’ and pretend that the facts no longer exist. That black iswhite etc. Amongst themselves a little, usually quiet, bragging goes on concerning the superiority of Jews to other ‘races’, but that is usually kept discrete. Unfortunately, while it is incontestable that Jews have contributed immensely to humanity through people like Marx,Einstein, Chomsky, Spinoza etc, there is another, far more insidious process at work here. I’m afraid that I detest racism and tribal racist supremacism very, very,strongly, and no more egregious example of this doctrine in action exists than Zionist entryism throughout the West. Whenever I peruse the Rightwing media, Zionist Jews abound, all Islamophobes and vicious hatemongers. When I contemplate the financial apparatus that is pauperising the planet’s majorities to grossly enrich a tiny minority, Zionist Jews are omnipresent. When I see racism in action, aggression and mass murder throughout the Near and Middle East, I see the neo-conservative cabal, overwhelmingly Zionist Judeofascists, pulling all the strings. When I survey Western politics I see submissive Sabbat Goyim everywhere, never daring to utter a squeak as the child murder, violence, dispossession and sadism grind on. I see the corrupt process dominated by Jewish money power (60% of the contributions to the Republicans in the USA for one example), yet with all this unassailable truth out there for all to see, in our Orwellian polities it is all simply denied. This situation, where one tiny tribe dominates the power centres of the planet, and its worst elements are driving the world to religious war and globalised apartheid, cannot and will not last.How it all ends, God only knows, but the chances of a terrific catastrophe rise every day, as Zionist arrogance,presumption and power grow and grow, and as that wretched ideology becomes more and more extreme and pitilessly cruel.

  8. bozh said on May 14th, 2010 at 7:49am #

    It`s the system! In its tenth millennium. It is of the system that only `nobility` get`s the best seats everywhere.
    Change the system so that a fisher, miner, tiller, houseperson can also get the best seat in governance or at a 1k dinner gathering.

    Am i mistaken ab j. petras not ever going for the jogular? And on and on talking ab pimples?
    If `jews`are over-represented everywhere that`s of the system also. Approval or use-abuse of israel is also of the system. And only time wld tell whether israelis are used and abused?

    Ucle sam and the world desperately needs new pants. Lament or jeremiahs is ok for a while. Patching them will bring no new fruit.
    Yes, US lamented ab brit`s rule, but not forever. They eventually revolted against alien lords and for the domestic lords; changing nothing for 90%+ americans.
    It cld be noted that canadians and australians did nor rebel yet have better life than most americans.

    How long, oh my devil wld these columnists be blind. It seems that fool me once=equals fool me forever!
    Hey, kids, nothing basicly had changed for at least 8 k yrs! US is not an exception nor a novelty. U didn`t, did u, expect to hear this in schools? Or on CNN; in movies? Wake up and smell the coffee or lament forever!
    Let us for once have merrimiahs instead of etern jeremiahs. tnx

  9. bjfolz said on May 14th, 2010 at 9:43am #

    Sorry, I think I meant hayate – I see how comments are BELOW the name here. Sorry, JE!

  10. hayate said on May 14th, 2010 at 10:09am #

    bjfolz

    “JE, Did you read the piece? The piece makes fun of the right wing response to Obama SCOTUS nominations. How you get “zionist propaganda” is simply beyond the beyond. It sounds like you need to take a break and laugh a little.”

    “Sorry, I think I meant hayate – I see how comments are BELOW the name here. Sorry, JE!”

    The foley piece starts out:

    “Since Elena Kagan’s nomination for the Supreme Court, the chatter about President Obama’s possible nomination of Jesus Christ has died down.”

    Many of those “talking points” seem to coincidentally match with what’s been said of kagan. But I’m not familiar with foley’s writing, he may have intended no connection and I’m letting past experiences of watching how fake progressives will twist an issue to promote zionist and/or fascist interests, especially with regard to past supreme court nominations.

  11. hayate said on May 14th, 2010 at 10:24am #

    She’s No Thurgood Marshall
    Kagan’s Disturbing Record

    By MARJORIE COHN

    http://www.counterpunch.org/cohn05142010.html

    This piece covers some of kagan’s fascist leanings, but at the end, it assumes this putrid ziofascist will get the appointment and is almost pleading with her to drop that fascism. Defeatism is not a helpful attitude for opposing this nomination. It will almost certainly assure kagan gets the appointment.

    What I like about the Petras piece is he doesn’t pull his punches, doesn’t hedge his criticism with “diplomatic” wording, but gets right down to the problem.

  12. bjfolz said on May 15th, 2010 at 2:47pm #

    hayate,
    yes, these things do match things said about Kagan as well as about other nominees … this is called … satire.