Black Lawmakers Seek Information on Kagan’s Diversity Record

Posted May 12, 2010 at 1:30pm

Black Democrats in Congress are poised to press Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan on her record of promoting diversity while she was dean of Harvard Law School and as a domestic policy adviser to President Bill Clinton.

“We are interested in her record on racial issues in the Clinton administration as well as at Harvard,” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said.

Norton, who handles federal court nominations for the Congressional Black Caucus, said queries about Kagan’s record of promoting racial inclusion would be among the questions that CBC members plan to submit to the Senate Judiciary Committee as the panel begins the confirmation process.

Kagan’s record on racial issues has come under scrutiny after some black activists and civil rights groups raised concerns that she did not do enough to promote the hiring of black faculty members while she was at Harvard. White House officials met with NAACP leaders and others Tuesday to try to allay those concerns.

Norton stressed that she had already done a cursory review of Kagan’s record and had not yet found anything of concern.

“We just want more information,” she said as she left a CBC meeting where the Kagan nomination was discussed Wednesday afternoon. “We’re not accusatory at this point. … Questions have been raised. I’m sure she will want to answer them.”

Despite its scrutiny, the CBC has been generally supportive of Obama’s decision to nominate Kagan. In a statement released Monday, night, CBC Chairwoman Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) lauded Kagan as a nominee with “a real-world understanding of how the law is applied in the lives of the American people.”

“I support Ms. Kagan because I think her closer sense with students, with the general public is somewhat different from some of the previous justices that we’ve had,” said Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.), adding that she also wanted more information about Kagan’s views on women’s issues, campaign finance and equal opportunity efforts.