Kagan the single urbanite

I’ve found it hard to get particularly exercised by the ongoing debate regarding whether Elena Kagan is a lesbian and whether, if so, she’s obliged to say so.  I think I basically agree with Richard Kim’s take.  I’d also fully endorse Claire Potter’s post on the subject, especially for its invocation of J. Edgar Hoover and Roy Cohn.  (This called to mind a provocative question Glenda Gilmore once asked in a seminar: when we talk about queer politics in the 1950s, should those two be part of the conversation?)

What Elena Kagan is not: now-Chief Justice John Roberts and family, and George W. Bush, in 2005.
What Elena Kagan is not: now-Chief Justice John Roberts and family, and George W. Bush, in 2005.

I was frankly more interested by the fact that, with Kagan, Barack Obama has now nominated two single—or, at least, unmarried—women to the Supreme Court in a row.  Mary Dudziak was similarly intrigued, and delved into the apparently considerable history of unmarried male justices.

Marc Ambinder, meanwhile, notes perceptively that both Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor are, like Obama, creatures of the city.

Ultimately, I think, most folks along the progressive spectrum, including LGBT progressives, can agree that it’s a good thing if one doesn’t have to fit into a tableau like the one above in order to ascend to high political office in the United States.  Nominating Kagan—an unmarried, childless, lifelong urban-dweller who lacks a traditionally feminine personal style—advances that agenda.  How it bodes for the future of the Court’s decision making is a separate, and probably more consequential, question.

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