RNC TARGETS KAGAN’S THURGOOD MARSHALL QUOTES…. It’s simply not realistic to think the Republican National Committee would be gracious and classy upon learning of President Obama nominating Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court. But with all of the potential areas of attack, this RNC argument seems especially misguided, even for the RNC.
Republicans are questioning Elena Kagan’s ties to a liberal icon and the nation’s first African American Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall.
In its first memo to reporters since Kagan’s nomination to the high court became public, the Republican National Committee highlighted Kagan’s tribute to Marshall in a 1993 law review article published shortly after his death.
Kagan quoted from a speech Marshall gave in 1987 in which he said the Constitution as originally conceived and drafted was “defective.” She quoted him as saying the Supreme Court’s mission was to “show a special solicitude for the despised and the disadvantaged.”
This, as far as the RNC is concerned, is some kind of outrage.
But that’s foolish. Thurgood Marshall’s description of the Constitution as “defective” was hardly shocking — it was defective. Let me give the RNC an example: the Constitution defined slaves as three-fifths of a person. It was a morally indefensible and disgusting “flaw” in the Constitution that needed fixing. It was, after all, what Marshall was referring to in the speech Kagan quoted.
(Fortunately, we now have the13th Amendment. Maybe the RNC has heard of it.)
Indeed, the amendment process itself reflects the basic reality that the framers of the Constitution recognized that it was a flawed framework that would need to be revised over time. By one reasoning, anytime anyone recommends approval of a constitutional amendment, they’re effectively characterizing the existing Constitution as inadequate and in need of improvement.
And yet, there’s the RNC’s new research document, asking, “Does Kagan Still View Constitution ‘As Originally Drafted And Conceived’ As ‘Defective’?”
Kagan, of course, clerked for Thurgood Marshall, and has long considered him a hero. That she would publish a tribute to the Supreme Court giant and quote one of his speeches is hardly the stuff of controversy.
Chances are, the Republican National Committee is just throwing the kitchen sink at Kagan, hoping something will stick. But using Thurgood Marshall to go after her is offensive and dumb.