Does Kagan Oppose Mother’s Day?

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


It’s funny how much can change in 17 years. Yesterday I was reading through Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s written responses to questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee during her confirmation hearings last year to be Solicitor General. I was struck by one about her time working on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s confirmation. The committee asked Kagan:

In 1993, you worked on Justice Ginsburg’s confirmation hearing. Prior to Justice Ginsburg’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, she wrote on a number of women’s issue. She had written that the age of consent for women should be 12, that prisons should house men and women together in order to have gender equality, that Mother’s and Father’s Day should be abolished because they stereotype men and women, and that there is a constitutional right to prostitution. In a 1995 book review, you called Justice Ginsburg a “moderate.” Do you believe these are moderate positions?

Kagan, naturally, sprinted away from Ginsburg and claimed she wasn’t even aware of some of her more liberal positions. (Kagan is, of course, pro-Mother’s Day.) But what struck me about the question was just how impossible it would be today for someone with Ginsburg’s career as an advocate to make it on to the federal bench at virtually any level, much less the Supreme Court. I mean, arguing to abolish Mother’s Day? A constitutional right to prostitution? Any one of those things would be the kiss of death in today’s polarized world. Yet Ginsburg’s nomination wasn’t the least bit controversial. She was confirmed overwhelmingly in a 96 to 3 vote. Only a single witness testified against her.

What’s depressing about how much the confimration process has changed is that it hasn’t kept judges (or justices) with extreme views off the bench. It’s just made aspiring justices better at hiding those views, at least until they get a lifetime appointment, at which time they are free to say, rewrite 100 years of campaign finance laws in favor of big corporations.  

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest