Does Kagan Oppose Mother’s Day?

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


It’s funny how much can change in 17 years. Yesterday I was reading through Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s written responses to questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee during her confirmation hearings last year to be Solicitor General. I was struck by one about her time working on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s confirmation. The committee asked Kagan:

In 1993, you worked on Justice Ginsburg’s confirmation hearing. Prior to Justice Ginsburg’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, she wrote on a number of women’s issue. She had written that the age of consent for women should be 12, that prisons should house men and women together in order to have gender equality, that Mother’s and Father’s Day should be abolished because they stereotype men and women, and that there is a constitutional right to prostitution. In a 1995 book review, you called Justice Ginsburg a “moderate.” Do you believe these are moderate positions?

Kagan, naturally, sprinted away from Ginsburg and claimed she wasn’t even aware of some of her more liberal positions. (Kagan is, of course, pro-Mother’s Day.) But what struck me about the question was just how impossible it would be today for someone with Ginsburg’s career as an advocate to make it on to the federal bench at virtually any level, much less the Supreme Court. I mean, arguing to abolish Mother’s Day? A constitutional right to prostitution? Any one of those things would be the kiss of death in today’s polarized world. Yet Ginsburg’s nomination wasn’t the least bit controversial. She was confirmed overwhelmingly in a 96 to 3 vote. Only a single witness testified against her.

What’s depressing about how much the confimration process has changed is that it hasn’t kept judges (or justices) with extreme views off the bench. It’s just made aspiring justices better at hiding those views, at least until they get a lifetime appointment, at which time they are free to say, rewrite 100 years of campaign finance laws in favor of big corporations.  

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.