Given Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s general lack of a judicial record, conservative opponents of the Obama administration are having some difficulty finding an issue on which to criticize the former Harvard Law dean and current solicitor-general.
Which is not to say they’re not trying: There is the issue of Kagan’s sexuality, which has become a source of discontent for some right-wing pundits; and there’s also the standard fall-back accusation against anyone suspected of not being conservative — the “socialist” label.
But conservative commentator Pat Buchanan has found a different way to criticize the president’s choice of Supreme Court judge: Kagan’s Jewishness.
“If Kagan is confirmed, Jews, who represent less than 2 percent of the US population, will have 33 percent of the Supreme Court seats,” Buchanan wrote in a column for WorldNetDaily on Friday. “Is this the Democrats’ idea of diversity?”
In his column, Buchanan argued the Democrats have been hypocritical in claiming to be the party of ethnic and racial diversity because their Supreme Court picks don’t reflect the US’s ethnic and religious breakdown.
Not since Thurgood Marshall, 43 years ago, has a Democratic president chosen an African-American. The lone sitting black justice is Clarence Thomas, nominated by George H. W. Bush. And Thomas was made to run a gauntlet by Senate liberals.
Indeed, of the last seven justices nominated by Democrats JFK, LBJ, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, one was black, Marshall; one was Puerto Rican, Sonia Sotomayor. The other five were Jews: Arthur Goldberg, Abe Fortas, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan….
Not in living memory has a Democratic president nominated an Irish, Italian or Polish Catholic, though these ethnic communities once gave the party its greatest victories in the cities and states of the North. … And not in nearly half a century has a Democratic president nominated a white Protestant or white Catholic man or woman.
Retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is the last Protestant left on the nation’s highest court. If confirmed, Kagan will join justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the Jewish contingent on the court; all the remaining justices are Catholic.
Buchanan, who has a four-decade-plus track record of political commentary, has developed something of a reputation for linking himself to anti-Semitic causes. Last year, he stirred controversy with his claim, in a column, that Adolf Hitler didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to launch a European war, and that World War II could have been avoided if Poland had agreed to hand over the city of Gdansk to Germany.
And, as Karl Frisch points out at MediaMatters, Buchanan in 1977 called Hitler “an individual of great courage, a soldierÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s soldier in the Great War, a leader steeped in the history of Europe….”
Frisch points to this breakdown of the religious affiliation of Supreme Court justices as proof that the most over-represented religious group is not Jews, but Episcopalians, who have accounted for 32.4 percent of all Supreme Court justices, but amount to only 1.7 percent of the US population.
By comparison, Jewish justices have accounted for 6.4 percent of judges on the top court over the years.
“So why hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t Buchanan been complaining about the severe overrepresentation of Episcopalians and Presbyterians on the bench?” Frisch asks. “They account for 50 percent of all Justices and only 4.5 percent of the U.S. population. Certainly that would enrage someone like Buchanan, right?”
In a column published Friday in the Huffington Post, MediaMatters’ Ari Rabn-Havt argues that anti-Semitism is “rearing its ugly head” in the debate over Kagan’s nomination.