Supreme Court Nominee–Predictable and Surprising

President Barack Obama’s pick to be our newest Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan, is at the same time both a predictable choice and a surprising one.  Here’s what I mean:

Ms. Kagan has a liberal world view, which is totally unremarkable.  The President is left of center, so it only makes sense that he wants someone on the Court who reflects his values.  This is all the more unsurprising in so far as she would be replacing a liberal justice.  As specific policy issues come up during the confirmation process, liberals will be heartened and conservatives will be disappointed.  It was this way under Bill Clinton, just as the reverse was true with George W. Bush.

Here’s what’s unique about this situation:  Ms. Kagan used her position as dean of the Law School at Harvard to ban the military from recruiting on her campus.  This was in response to the military’s enforcement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  Interestingly, it was a Democratic President, Clinton, who hashed out this policy with input from Congress and the military.  But what is even more interesting is the message that this sends during a time of military action in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I’m troubled by Ms. Kagan’s decision regarding the military for two reasons.  1. The military–under the control of our civilian government–exists to protect us from foreign threats.  It seems unpatriotic and ungrateful to not allow them access to students on a campus that receives a whole lot of federal dollars in some way, shape or form.  2. Academia is supposed to be a place where ideas can be debated and judged; where students can expand their minds by being exposed to various philosophies and world views.  By taking a stand against the military (!), Ms. Kagan censored the debate.  She limited her students’ access to a philosophy because she didn’t personally approve of it.

I understand that President Obama wants someone who shares his views–every President wants this when it comes to the Supreme Court–but is Elena Kagan really that person?