Where I disagree with her

We have to expect this. The President’s opponents will look for ammo to use to oppose Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court. We have seen this sort of stuff before. “In her 10th grade essay on race, the nominee wrote ...”

I usually don’t take it seriously. This time, however, is different. Critics are citing her anti-military stance at Harvard. When she was dean of the law school she went out of her way to ban military recruiters from the campus. She did so because the armed forces did not allow openly gay people from serving. She even took the issue to the Supreme Court. The court decided against Harvard.

Newt Gingrich says she should be disqualified for such an un-American act. He says she is not worthy of being a Supreme Court Justice.

This resonates with millions of folks. And so her supporters were quick to dismiss the attacks. Harvard was never a good place for the military to recruit anyway, one says. She didn’t allow recruiters into this area, but she didn’t mind if they went to this area. Hair-splitting.



However, Elena Kagan was not hair-splitting. Going to the Supreme Court takes big money and effort. Harvard is America’s pre-eminent university. She was making a statement: If a school’s leaders disagree with a military policy the school can choose to punish the military.

That is where I disagree with her. I agree with the Supreme Court.

Harvard sucks many millions of dollars from taxpayers. Its students gather millions of dollars in loans from taxpayers. Its researchers do too. Taxpayer money goes into their buildings and programs.

Millions of Americans have risked their lives in uniform to protect this country. Harvard included. Millions went to wars so that Harvard and other schools would survive. Millions lost their lives or limbs or faculties or sons and daughters in those missions.

You may disagree with how a president uses our armed forces. You may be opposed to a war – indeed, to all wars. You may be opposed to policies on gays in the military.

There are many ways you can properly protest. Kicking recruiters off your tax-supported campus is not one of them. Deliberately creating an anti-military atmosphere on the campus is not one of them.

Suppose Elena Kagan had opposed government policies on drugs. Would she have been right to keep medical school recruiters off the campus? Or recruiters from pharmaceutical companies?

Suppose she did not like some policies of the Boston Police Department. Or the way the Boston Fire Department handled some fires. Would she have been right to keep their recruiters off the campus?

Would she have been right to keep recruiters from the State Department off the campus because she disagreed with U.S. policy toward Israel?

Of course not. She was running a quasi-public institution.  It relies utterly on tax money from our citizens. It is – and has been – defended by millions of men and women in the uniform of our armed forces. To ban military recruiters from the campus was wrong. It was short-sighted. It was selfish. It showed poor judgment.

To take the issue to the Supreme Court was an insult to everyone who has ever served in uniform.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.                  

For more columns, for Tom’s radio shows and new TV show (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

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