Kagan Shirked Duty to Defend Federal Laws Protecting Crime Victims

Federal law authorizes life sentences without parole for particularly heinous violent crimes committed by 16 and 17-year olds.  But Solicitor General Elena Kagan was nowhere to be found when life imprisonment without parole was challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court last fall.  That’s true despite the fact that as solicitor general, “Kagan has an obligation to defend federal laws against constitutional challenges.”

In a 5-to-4 ruling Monday, the Supreme Court struck down such sentences, relying partly on their alleged conflict with international legal norms and “international opinion.”

(Since international norms are hostile both to civil liberties and to life imprisonment even for adult murderers, the Supreme Court’s reliance on them set a dangerous precedent).

Despite Kagan’s dereliction of duty, she was nominated to the serve on the Supreme Court by President Obama.

As Solicitor General, she zealously defended the most censorious aspects of the McCain-Feingold law, which violated the First Amendment, and her office argued that the federal government could even ban books advocating the defeat of a politician using it.

As dean of Harvard Law School, she banned the military from Harvard, challenging a federal law that granted equal access to military recruiters.  She claimed the law, which applied to recipients of federal funds, was unconstitutional — a position unanimously rejected by the Supreme Court.

Too bad she didn’t have similar zeal for protecting crime victims in Monday’s Graham v. Florida case, which may well result in dangerous criminals being released who will go on to commit more acts of violence. (Solicitors General have broad authority to intervene in Supreme Court cases, which they have exercised even in cases not involving the federal government.  But Kagan, who is literally a limousine liberal, could not even be bothered to defend federal laws protecting crime victims).

Curiously, as dean of Harvard Law, Kagan pushed through changes in the curriculum that included dropping constitutional law as a requirement and adding international law as a requirement. (This was a misguided change. I attended Harvard Law before these changes, and not taking an international law class did not in any way hamper my subsequent ability to practice international trade law. My constitutional law class did, however, leave me better equipped to bring lawsuits against government agencies.)

Other Obama judicial nominees have also attracted controversy over their views on the death penalty and criminal sentencing, like the radical law professor Goodwin Liu, and a Connecticut judge who tried to block the execution of the Roadside Strangler, arguing that his “sexual sadism” was a mitigating factor.