Pelavin: "We know that [Justice-Designate Kagan's] wit, intellect, and experience will certainly serve her well as she takes on the awesome responsibility of pursuing justice on our nation's highest court."
WASHINGTON, D.C., August 5th, 2010- In response to the Senate's confirmation of Solicitor General Elena Kagan as the 112th United States Supreme Court Justice, Mark Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose 900 congregations encompass nearly 1.5 million Reform Jews, I congratulate Justice-designate Elena Kagan on her confirmation. The Religious Action Center worked closely with Justice-Designate Kagan on an array of religious freedom, civil rights, and women's rights issues during her time as a legal and policy aide to President Bill Clinton. We found her to be passionate in her commitment to constitutional rights and wise in her strategic judgment. We know that her wit, intellect, and experience will serve her well as she takes on the awesome responsibility of pursuing justice on our nation's highest court.
The Supreme Court has a powerful and lasting impact on nearly every issue that Reform Jews care about, including ensuring freedom of religion and speech, preserving civil liberties and civil rights, protecting the environment, defending reproductive health and rights, and guaranteeing due process in our legal system. The appointment of any new Supreme Court Justice to a lifetime position will directly influence federal law in these areas for decades.
The Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis did not take a formal position on Justice-designate Kagan's confirmation. Still, the Religious Action Center has been an active participant in the process of considering her record and credentials, encouraging Senators to fulfill their constitutional role of "advise and consent." To do this, we lifted up the issue of religious freedom by inviting church/state scholars and advocates to the RAC to review Solicitor General Kagan's record on the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses of the First Amendment and craft questions that we forwarded to Senate Judiciary Committee members. In addition, we held a conference call, in partnership with the United Methodist Church, for the faith community to discuss the implications of this nomination, used "AskElenaKagan.com" to collect questions that our members encouraged Senators on the Judiciary Committee to ask Solicitor General Kagan and provided day-to-day coverage of the hearings, including video clips of our staff on Capitol Hill.
The Jewish tradition teaches us, "Tzedek, tzedek, tirdof" or "Justice, justice, shall you pursue" (Deuteronomy 17:20). This command directs us to not only behave justly but help build systems of justice that allow for equal access and protection for all. Justice-Designate Kagan's echoed this sentiment when, during her hearings, she praised Justice Thurgood Marshall's commitment to ensuring that "courts take seriously claims that were not taken seriously anyplace else."
We hope, and have every reason to believe, that Justice-designate Kagan will preserve the essential rights and freedoms that the Supreme Court has afforded the American people over time. We wish her wisdom and strength as she takes her seat as the 112th Supreme Court Justice.