President Trumka’s statement on Kagan is more wait and see, like much of the progressive movement. Supporting the choice of a woman, supporting her parent’s values, and look forward to learning more about her views of importance to working families…
Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka on the Nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court
May 10, 2010
The AFL-CIO offers its congratulations to Solicitor General Elena Kagan on her nomination today to the Supreme Court by President Obama. It is an historic nomination. If confirmed, Ms. Kagan will join two other women on the Court, the first time the Court has had three sitting women justices. This is yet another decisive crack in the glass ceiling for women leaders in our country.
The Supreme Court has a profound impact on the lives of working people. The “hot button” social issues may garner media attention, but working families feel the impact of less publicized decisions by the Court that give corporations rights never intended by the Constitution, undermine the protections of labor, civil rights and pay equity laws, and negate consumer protections. Ms. Kagan is the daughter of a housing lawyer devoted to the rights of tenants and a public school teacher. We are optimistic that she will bring to the bench a full appreciation of the issues confronting working families in today’s economy.
We look forward to Ms. Kagan’s hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee and learning more fully her position on labor and employment issues. We hope these hearings will be a civil and constructive debate about the merits of her nomination, free from the obstructionist tactics that have marred too many of President Obama’s other nominations.
Contact: Amaya Tune (202) 637-5018
With President Obama announcing Solicitor General Elena Kagan as his nominee to fill Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, Americans are demanding a nominee that stands with working families over corporations. According to a new poll by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, 53% of likely voters agree that “too often, this Supreme Court favors big corporations over individuals”. Additionally, by a 57% to 37% margin voters want the Senate to “focus on issues like the nominee’s understanding of the impact legal decisions have on the lives of everyday Americans.” And what that means is that the “nominee will be fair so that individuals and families get an impartial hearing and not give preferential treatment to powerful individuals and big corporations.”
That’s precisely President Obama’s reasoning for choosing Kagan. As he said at the announcement this morning: An “understanding of law, not as an intellectual exercise or words on a page, but as it affects the lives of ordinary people, has animated every step of Elena’s career — including her service as Solicitor General today. During her time in this office, she’s repeatedly defended the rights of shareholders and ordinary citizens against unscrupulous corporations.”
That is the role that Justice Stevens has filled. As the Supreme Court has become increasingly corporate, Stevens has served as the people’s voice. In Ledbetter (2007), Justice Stevens was in the minority in defending women’s right to challenge discriminatory pay once she realizes the discrimination. In Gross (2009), Stevens stood on the side of elderly employees to ensure that their age cannot be used in anyway to discriminate against them, even if one of several factors. And in Hoffman Plastic (2002), Stevens was on the side of an immigrant fired worker who was refused back pay after being illegally fired because he was an undocumented alien (which the company knew before employing him). And these are only a sampling.
In a new report, People for the American Way Foundation, lays out case after case inwhich the court’s corprate right-wing are undermining working families. Now more than ever, Elena Kagan needs to be the Supreme Court Justice Americans want her to be, President Obama claims she will be, and Justice Stevens was.
SEIU is the first union to come out to support Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court. On what basis? That her parents were a teacher and a tenant lawyer:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Published May 10, 2010 3:27 PM
Mark McCullough, (202) 730-7283
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Statement from SEIU President Mary Kay Henry on President Barack Obama’s nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to serve as the 112th justice of the Supreme Court of the United States:
“Working people are facing hardships we haven’t seen in generations. Because of these challenges, people need a Supreme Court – now, more than ever – that will stand up for their interests. Not corporate interests but the people’s interests.
“As the daughter of a public school teacher and a lawyer who defended the rights of tenants, Elena Kagan understands first-hand the direct impact courts have on people’s lives. Her commitment to fairness and to justice for everyday people has earned her respect across the ideological spectrum.
“The people deserve justices like Kagan – justices whose allegiance to equal justice and the rule of law trumps politics and corporate influence. And, nothing could be more important than restoring the Court’s commitment to these principles.
“The Senate now has an opportunity to have a thoughtful discussion about the rule of law and the role of the Court in people’s lives. We are confident her experience as one of the nation’s leading legal minds and her record as a trailblazer make Elena Kagan worthy of swift confirmation.”
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With 2.2 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers–not just corporations and CEOs–benefit from today’s global economy.
With President Obama planning to announce Solicitor General Elena Kagan as his nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, young workers must demand a real analysis of her views on the corporate giants that have created unsafe mines, built dangerous oil drilling platforms, and demanded taxpayer bailouts for their gambling habits.
Wall Street has perfected an amazing coup of the Supreme Court. By co-opting religious, socially conservative, economically disadvantaged voters, corporate titans have successfully distracted the Supreme Court nomination process over and over again. Rather than focus on the future justice’s view of the government’s authority to regulate the economy, the Senate and media dissect their views on Roe v. Wade, same-sex civil marriage, school busing, etc. And what has been the result? A Supreme Court that puts the interests of corporations above those of working people.
This was most recently seen in the Citizens United case, where the Supreme Court ruled that corporations deserve the rights of people. Health insurance corporations can now spend freely to elect Senators that will do their bidding in reversing and weakening health care reform. How is that in the interest of the democracy? How does that protect the First Amendment rights of working families? Justice Stevens didn’t think it did. Neither should his replacement.
It appears that President Obama’s priorities in choosing the next justice are in the right place. As Attorney General Eric Holder said on today’s Meet the Press: “he’s looking for a person who will understand that we have to have a Supreme Court that understands its decisions and the impact those decisions have on the American–the average American person.”
The stakes could not be higher now. The next justice must be on the side of young workers. Noah Feldman, Harvard Law School professor, makes the case that the next justice should be a young person: “Given that John McCain won a majority of voters over 40 in 2008, doesn’t it make sense for at least one justice to come from the America that made Barack Obama president?”
That may be too much of a pipe dream to ask for. But in this confirmation process, we cannot allow Wall Street distraction tactics. Its time we focus on the bread and butter issues.